N534PA. Boeing 747SP-21. c/n 21026-286.

 

This was the fifth Boeing 747SP to be constructed for Pan Am. It was ordered on September 10, 1973 as part of the airline's order for 10 aircraft. This order was later revised to reflect the airline's growing financial problems. The revised contract, now for 7 firm orders and 18 options, was signed on April 15, 1974. This was the tenth Boeing 747SP to fly. Rolled out at Everett on April 19, 1976 with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A engines it was entered onto the United States Aircraft Register as N534PA. It flew for the first time on May 07, 1976.

 

Accepted by Pan Am at Paine Field on May 28, 1976 the aircraft was named 'Clipper Great Republic' and was configured to seat 18 First Class, 62 Business Class and 164 Economy Class passengers. 'Clipper Great Republic' was one of the five names that had been chosen to reflect the spirit of the upcoming American bicentennial celebrations. N534PA was immediately deployed on Pan Am's Pacific routes, including the non-stop services from the United States to New Zealand and Australia. The 12,030 km (7,475 mile) nonstop service from Sydney to San Francisco was the longest nonstop route in the world at that time. This flight would usually take around 13 hours 15 minutes, depending on the prevailing westerly winds.

 

This aircraft was damaged whilst on descent to Narita Airport, Japan on April 25, 1978 when it was violently struck twice by lightning on the nose as it entered a patch of heavy rain and hail. This caused the First Officer's cockpit window to shatter.

 

In April 1985 Pan Am sold its entire Pacific Division (routes and aircraft) for $US 750,000,000 to United Airlines in an attempt to deal with its dire financial problems. Ownership of 'Clipper Great Republic' was transferred to United Airlines on February 11, 1986.

 

Retaining its current registration it entered United service with the existing Pan Am cheat line and an all-white tail. It was reregistered as N144UA on May 01, 1986. By November 1986 it had been repainted in the United 'rainbow' livery with small company titles on the forward fuselage.

 

It was sold to American Finance Group on July 25, 1989 and immediately leased back to United. By August 1991 the aircraft had acquired the larger 'United' titles but retained the existing 'rainbow' livery. By March 1994 it had been withdrawn from service and stored at Las Vegas in the basic livery but with an all-white tail. It was observed in this livery stored as Las Vegas on January 14, 1995.

 

It was repurchased by United Air Lines Inc. on February 05, 1996. Ownership was then transferred to United Air Lines Inc, United's parent company on March 01, 1996. It was then ferried Las Vegas - Ardmore Municipal Airport, Oklahoma as UA9506-07 on March 07, 1996. It was officially retired by United eight days later on March 15. It was stored in the existing livery without titles It was destined never to fly again.

 

Scrapping proceeded at a slow pace. By December 1997 the engines had been removed along with the landing gear doors and some wing panels. It was observed in January 1998 with the seats still fitted but approximately 40% of usable parts had been removed.

 

Observed again in June 2001 it lay on its belly in a very poor condition. It was completely scrapped by January 2002 having flown 78,870 hours with 10,530 cycles.

 

N534PA. Pan Am - 'Clipper Great Republic' in the standard livery at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, January 03, 1979.

(R. N. Smith Copyright Image 4635-102.)

N534PA. Pan Am - 'Clipper Great Republic' in the standard livery at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, January 08, 1979.

(R. N. Smith Copyright Image 4635-103.)

N534PA. Pan Am - 'Clipper Great Republic' in the standard livery at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, May 16, 1979.

(R. N. Smith Copyright Image 4635-408.)

N534PA. Pan Am - 'Clipper Great Republic' in the standard livery at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, August 24, 1979.

(R. N. Smith Copyright Image 4635-104.)

N534PA. Pan Am - 'Clipper Great Republic' in the standard livery at Frankfurt Airport, September 1983.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 4635-143.)

N144UA. United - in the standard livery at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, April 1986.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 4635-456.)

N144UA. United - in the basic livery at Ardmore Municipal Airport, circa 1996.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 4635-779.)