N539PA. Boeing 747SP-21. c/n 21648-367.


 

Pan Am confirmed the order for this aircraft, the airline's ninth, on December 15, 1977. This was the twenty-second Boeing 747SP to be built. It was rolled out at Everett on March 09, 1979 with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A engines. Entered onto the United States Aircraft Register as N539PA it flew for the first time on March 30, 1979.

 

Accepted by Pan Am at Paine Field on April 20, 1979 the aircraft was named 'Clipper Black Hawk'. Pan Am introduced 'sleeperette' seats on the 747SPs on February 01, 1979, and it is more than likely this aircraft was fitted with them from the outset. These seats offered a massive 63 inch pitch and reclined to 60 degrees for sleeping. They were offered on the Los Angeles - London, New York - Tokyo, Los Angeles - Tokyo, Los Angeles - Auckland - Sydney, New York - Dhahran and the New York - Buenos Aires routes for first-class passengers at no extra charge. Another novel feature was that passengers travelling together could have their first class seat trays linked to establish a single 'banquette' table. Over time the 747SP fleet were all configured to have 42 of these seats.

 

By January 1, 1980 this aircraft had been renamed 'Clipper Liberty Bell'.

 

In April 1985 Pan Am sold its entire Pacific Division (routes and aircraft) to United Airlines for $US 750,000,000 in an attempt to overcome its dire financial problems. Ownership of 'Clipper Liberty Bell' was officially transferred to United Airlines by February 12, 1986. It entered United service retaining the Pan Am cheatline with small United titles and full tail logo. It was reregistered as N148UA on June 01, 1986. By June 1991 it had been repainted into the United 'rainbow' livery with large fuselage titles.

 

Withdrawn from use it was observed stored at Las Vegas without titles on May 01, 1994. It was sold to Worldwide Aircraft Holding Incorporated on October 01, 1995 before being resold to First Security Bank of Utah and registered to them on October 15, 1995. It was immediately leased back to Worldwide Aircraft Holding. Its United States registration was cancelled on November 01, 1995.

 

It was entered onto Bermuda's Aircraft Register as VR-BAT on November 30, 1995 before it arrived at London's Heathrow Airport in a Qatar style livery with the Qatar national flag. This aircraft had been converted to an executive configuration. Its registration was amended to VP-BAT on September 01, 1997.

 

The aircraft is used by the Qatar Royal Family for official flights but the aircraft does not carry any titles. Despite making only a few flights each year it is one of the few 747SPs currently airworthy and is used on a regular basis.

 


 

N539PA. Pan Am - in the standard livery at Melbourne Airport, August 1985.
N539PA. United - in the basic Pan Am livery at Melbourne Airport, March 1986.
N539PA. United - in the basic Pan Am livery at Melbourne Airport, March 1986.

N539PA. United - in the basic Pan Am livery at Melbourne Airport, March 1986.

N148UA. United - in the original rainbow livery at San Francisco Airport, June 1986.

N148UA. United - in the original rainbow livery at San Francisco Airport, March 1987.

N148UA. United - in the original rainbow livery at San Francisco Airport, June 1988.

N148UA. United - in the original rainbow livery at Los Angeles Airport, June 1988.

VR-BAT. Qatar Amiri Flight - in the standard livery at Amsterdam Airport, July 1996.

VP-BAT. Qatar Amiri Flight - in the standard livery at Paris Orly Airport, May 1999.

VP-BAT. Qatar Amiri Flight - in the standard livery at Munich Airport, May 1999.

VP-BAT. Qatar Amiri Flight - in the standard livery at Munich Airport, March 2005.

VP-BAT. Qatar Amiri Flight - in the standard livery at Zurich Airport, July 2006.