First ever Boeing 777 donated to aviation museum by Cathay Pacific

Just days after the first static-test Boeing 777X rolled out of the Everett facility outside Seattle, Cathay Pacific announced the retirement of the very first-ever Boeing 777, precursor to the 777X.

On September 18, after almost two decades in the airline's fleet, that first Boeing 777 flew from Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong hub to Tucson Arizona, destined for that city's Pima Air and Space Museum. Cathay Pacific took delivery of the aircraft, line number WA001, in 2000. United Airlines had already been operating the 777 for five years, but Cathay's was the first Boeing 777 to take to the skies, originally used as a test aircraft by the manufacturer.

See also: What the F? Cathay spells its own name wrong on plane

The twin-engine, wide-body 777 is a significant aircraft, the world's largest twinjet and the first fly-by-wire Boeing. Early models were offered with large folding wingtips to allow the 777 to park at gates designed for smaller aircraft but no customers signed up for this option. Curiously, folding wingtips will re-emerge as an option with the 777X, although smaller than the original fold-ups on the 777.

Underlining the durability of the 777 design, the 777X is the name given to the upgraded 777-8 and 777-9 variants, featuring composite wings and GE9X engines and further technologies developed for Boeing's composite-aircraft 787. The static test 777X which recently emerged into the light of day is a non-flying model, built to assess the airframe, a precursor to the finished version expected to enter service in 2020.

The 777 has been the most successful wide-body aircraft ever, with close to 2000 orders from more than 60 customers. The most popular variant is the extended range 777-300ER, with the ultra long-range 777-200LR variant as the number one choice for many airlines looking for a marathon runner. The 777-200LR is the aircraft Qatar Airways uses on the world's longest flight, between Doha and Auckland, set to move to second place when Singapore Airlines begins its Singapore-New York flight in October 2018 aboard an Airbus A350-900ULR.

See also: Giant wings: Boeing largest ever twin-engine plane rolls out

Given its credentials, it is only fitting that the retiring aircraft will join the Pima Air and Space Museum's vast collection of helicopters, bombers, fighters, executive jets, light aircraft and passenger aircraft.

Innovative and historic aircraft often feature in aviation museums. Here are some that rewrote the aviation industry, or could have if they'd worked.



Visitors admire Concorde 216, the last aircraft of its type to be built and which made the fleet's final flight, at the British Aerospace site in Filton, Bristol, where it was made, and is now the centrepiece in a dedicated Concorde museum that has opened to the public.. Picture date: Tuesday October, 17, 2017. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire satnov11cover ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

The last Concorde can be seen at Aerospace Bristol. Photo: AP

Flying at supersonic speeds, the turbojet-powered aircraft ushered in a new era of aviation when it entered service in 1976. A joint project by the French aircraft builder Aerospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation, only 20 Concordes were ever built, and the only two airlines to operate the aircraft, British Airways and Air France, required huge government subsidies to purchase them. Flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet, the delta-wing Concorde achieved speeds of Mach 2.04, almost 2200 kilometres per hour.

In July 2000 an Air France Concorde hit debris lying on the runway at Charles de Gaulle Airport, rupturing a tyre which struck the underside of a wing, resulting in a fire that caused the aircraft to crash with the loss of all 109 passengers and crew. The music finally ended in November 2003 when Air France and BA were no longer able to sustain the losses involved in operating one of the most exciting and beautiful passenger aircraft ever to take to the skies.

Where to see it

Le Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace

Paris Le Bourget, France

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum

Yeovilton, UK

Imperial War Museum

Duxford, Cambridge UK

National Air and Space Museum

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Chantilly, Virginia USA

Aerospace Bristol

Bristol, UK

See also: The last Concorde supersonic jet's new final resting place

Spruce Goose

Pic shows the real spruce goose in action on its legendary flight. for SHD Travel 20 Feb. Pic credit: Evergreen Aviation Museum used in shd travel 040213

The Spruce Goose in action on its legendary flight. Photo: Evergreen Aviation Museum

One of the largest aircraft ever built, this giant eight-engine seaplane was conceived during World War II, when the USA needed to move large numbers of troops and tonnes of material across the Atlantic at a time when German U-boats were preying on Allied ships.

The creation of eccentric entrepreneur and aviator Howard Hughes, the aircraft was built entirely from wood due to wartime restrictions on metal usage. It only ever flew once, in 1947 when it was airborne for just over a kilometre with Hughes at the controls. Its wingspan of 97.75 metres is 17 metres greater than that of an Airbus A380.

Where to see it

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

McMinnville, Oregon, US

Wright Flyer

The Wright Brothers plane at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian, Washington DC

Photo: Craig Platt

It was this flimsy looking aircraft that proved the possibility of powered flight by a heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer, the Wright brothers' first powered aircraft, took to the skies on the beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, travelling 36 metres during its maiden 12-second flight. The aircraft was damaged that same day when a gust of wind overturned it and never flew again. Repaired and with new fabric, this is the aircraft that spawned the aviation era.

Where to see it

National Air and Space Museum

Washington DC, US

First Boeing 747

The first 747 is on display at the Museum of Flight near Seattle.

The first 747 is on display at the Museum of Flight near Seattle. Photo: Shutterstock

RA001, the Boeing 747 on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, was the first 747 to fly, in February 1969. It was a revolutionary aircraft, twice the size of its nearest competitor and so advanced it would take almost 40 years before another big double-decker four-engine challenger arrived. The 747 was designed as a stopgap, expected to last as a passenger aircraft only until supersonic aircraft dominated world travel, but the jumbo outlived them all. Although airlines are now retiring their 747s, during their working life Boeings jumbos have carried over 3.5 billion people, more than half the world's population.

Where to see it

Seattle Museum of Flight

Washington, US

Qantas Boeing 747-238B

Longreach Qantas Founders Outback Museum.

Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

"City of Bunbury" was delivered to Qantas in December 1979 and retired from the fleet in 2000. During its working life with Qantas it is estimated the aircraft carried over 5.4 million passengers and flew the equivalent of 2000 trips around the world. This is the only surviving Boeing 747-200 with Rolls Royce engines.

Where to see it

Qantas Founders Museum

Sir Hudson Fysh Drive, Longreach, Queensland

See also: Aussie town where you can walk on the wings of a Qantas 747

Catalina Flying Boat

Members of the Australian cricket team take off from Rose Bay at 5.20am for their tour to New Zealand on 26 February 1946. SMH SPORT Picture by COL GILBERT Touring squad plane cricketers hhollins post war sporting tours 1940s Australia seaplane flying boat Catalina ryantour

Members of the Australian cricket team take off from Rose Bay at 5.20am for their tour to New Zealand on 26 February 1946. Photo: Col Gilbert

Catalina flying boats were chosen to maintain a vital air link between Australia and the UK during World War II, flying non-stop from Western Australia to Colombo in Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was known at the time. Travelling at about 200 kilometres per hour the Catalinas would take an average of 28 hours to complete the journey, but up to 32 hours nine minutes when winds were unfavourable, setting a record the longest time ever for a scheduled commercial flight that remains unbroken. The five Catalinas used for this service were scuttled at sea under the lend-lease agreement with the US Government, however Qantas subsequently acquired seven former RAAF Catalinas and used them for services throughout the South Pacific, one of which sits at the Qantas Museum.

Qantas Founders Museum

Sir Hudson Fysh Drive, Longreach, Queensland

See also: Six incredible planes you'll never get to fly on