Although not the first jet powered airliner, the Boeing 707 is easily the most successful of the first generation of jet airliners introduced at the end of the 1950s. Development of the 707 began in 1952 with the design of the Boeing 367-80, a proof-of-concept demonstration aircraft for both military and commercial use. The “Dash 80” led to both the military KC-135 aerial tanker and the 707. The first 707 prototype flew in 1957 with the type entering airline service in 1958. The plane quickly came to dominate the long-range air travel market, pushing out earlier propeller driven airliners and overshadowing other jets built by Douglas and deHaviland.
In 1959, the U.S. Air Force purchased three “off-the-shelf” 707-153s for use as VIP transports. Modifications to the aircraft were limited to interior fittings and military radio equipment they were externally identical to commercial 707s. These aircraft served as VIP transports in the Presidential aircraft fleet until they were retired in the late 1990s.
89th Military Airlift Wing, Andrews AFB, Maryland, 1998
VC-137B “Freedom One”
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