N540PA. Boeing 747SP-21. c/n 21649-373.


 

Pan Am confirmed the order for this aircraft, the airline's tenth, on December 15, 1977. It was the last new 747SP to be built for Pan Am from the original order, although the airline did acquire an additional second-hand aircraft later on. This was the twenty-fourth Boeing 747SP constructed. It was rolled out at Everett on April 12, 1979 with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A engines. Entered onto the United States Aircraft Register as N540PA it flew for the first time on May 01, 1979.

 

Accepted by Pan Am at Paine Field on May 11, 1979 the aircraft was named 'Clipper White Falcon'. 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 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.

 

On August 01, 1979 the aircraft was renamed 'Clipper Flying Arrow'. However by January 01, 1980 N540PA had been renamed yet again as 'Clipper Star of the Union'. It was observed at Zurich Airport on January 01, 1981 now named 'China Clipper'.

 

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 'China Clipper' was transferred to United Airlines on February 12, 1986. It entered United service still wearing the Pan Am cheatline but with small 'United' titles in the middle of the fuselage. It was reregistered as N149UA on June 01, 1986. By January 01, 1987 it had been repainted into the United 'rainbow' livery with small fuselage titles. It was observed at San Francisco Airport on June 01, 1991 with the new large 'United' titles on the fuselage.

 

N149UA was leased to Tajik Air in their full livery and named 'Snow Leopard' on December 01, 1993. When Tajik Air failed to maintain its lease payments the aircraft was repossessed on February 14, 1994. It was ferried London (Heathrow) - Las Vegas on March 01, 1994 and placed in storage where it remained until August 29, 1995 when it was ferried to Hamburg Airport for sale to the Brunei Government.

 

Sold to the Brunei Government on August 30, it was cancelled immediately from the United States Aircraft Register. On November 01, 1995 it was entered onto the Brunei Aircraft Register as V8-JBB. It then underwent a major overhaul before undertaking a series of test flights from January 25 to 29, 1996. On February 01, 1996 it was ferried Hamburg - Waco, Texas where the interior was converted to an executive configuration. Its registration was then changed to VP-JP1 on March 01, 1996 and then again to V8-AC1 on April 1, 1996. In June 1996 the cockpit was upgraded to an all-glass 747-400 series at Waco. It was observed at New York's JFK Airport on January 29, 1997 operating for the Brunei Government.

 

On December 24, 1998 the aircraft was sold to the Bahrain Government. It was entered onto the Bahrain Aircraft Register as A9C-HHH on February 01, 1999. It arrived at Hamburg Airport on April 01, 1999 to undergo maintenance. It was rolled out in the full Bahrain livery without titles thirteen days later. It was reregistered as A9C-HMH on October 01, 2002. On July 30, 2006 it was seen carrying the name 'City of Bahrain' on it at Boston Airport.

 

On February 18, 2008 it arrived at Cape Town, South Africa and was parked on a remote taxiway for 5 days. During this time it was inspected by representatives from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. It was sold to them on May 29, 2008. On June 01, 2008 it was ferried Cape Town - Las Vegas - Washington Dulles Airport without titles and was entered onto Bermuda's Aircraft Register as VQ-BMS.

 

It was repainted into a striking white-blue-gold livery by September 2008 which it wears to this day as it continues to fly for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, ferrying clients from around the world to their casino.

 


 

N540PA. Pan Am - in the original livery at New York Airport, January 1981.
N540PA. Pan Am - in the original livery at Melbourne Airport, July 1983.

N540PA. United - in the interim livery at Sydney Airport, April 1986.
N540PA. United - in the interim livery at Melbourne Airport, April 1986.

N149UA. United - in the original livery at Los Angeles Airport, December 1987.

N149UA. United - in the original livery at Los Angeles Airport, February 1988.

N149UA. Tajik Air - in the full livery at Hamburg Airport, August 1995.

V8-AC1. Brunei Government - in the full livery at an unknown airport, June 1997.

V8-AC1. Brunei Government - in the full livery at an unknown airport, June 1997.
A9C-HHH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at Geneva Airport, May 2001.
A9C-HHH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at London Airport, July 2001.
A9C-HMH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at Hamburg Airport, April 2004.
A9C-HMH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at Paris Airport, August 2005.
A9C-HMH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at an unknown airport, July 2007.
A9C-HMH. Bahrain Government - in the standard livery at an unknown airport, July 2007.
VQ-BMS. Las Vegas Sands - in the standard livery at an unknown airport, August 2010.