News Column

Delta's last DC-9 retires at Charlotte museum

January 23, 2014

By Mark Washburn, The Charlotte Observer

Jan. 23 --Charlotte added another retiree Thursday, one finishing a high-flying career after 35 years. Delta Air Lines' last DC-9 arrived about 12:30 p.m. at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and took up residence at the Carolinas Aviation Museum . Built in 1979, the aircraft is the latest addition to the growing fleet at the museum, which includes the fuselage of the "Miracle on the Hudson " jetliner that ditched five years ago without any loss of life to the 155 aboard. Wally Coppinger , executive director of the museum off Billy Graham Parkway , said the plane donated by Delta will be on permanent exhibition and should open to visitors in a few weeks. Another DC-9 is on exhibit at Delta's air museum in Atlanta . "This is the last one we know of flying for a scheduled airline in the United States ," said Coppinger. It made its last commercial flight on Wednesday, carrying passengers from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. , to Atlanta , ending its career on a high note -- it reached the gate three minutes early. Charlotte welcomed the DC-9 to its retirement home with an arch of water from airport crash trucks. Its final crew was Capt. Scott Woolfrey , first officer Joel Schrader and flight attendant Patricia Ringness , all based in Atlanta . Joining them on Thursday's final flight were two dozen Delta employees and family members. Delta was the first customer for the Douglas twin-engine jetliners, which entered service in 1965. Because of their design, they could serve small and midsize airports with limited runway lengths, helping end the era of propeller-driven airliners. Production of DC-9s ended in 1982, and more efficient jets replaced them. "We're seeing the retirement of the last of the early-generation jets," said Shawn Dorsch , president of the aviation museum. "Most of them are being cut up for scrap." Dorsch said the plane is a key addition to the museum's fleet because it's an artifact that will tell a story about the development of commercial aviation in the 20th century. "This makes us a player in the commercial-aviation space as a museum," he said. "We've had a lot of public demand to go into a jetliner and we haven't been able to do that to date." ___ (c)2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)

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