Delta Flight Museum Acquires Douglas DC-7B

The unique propliner helps tell the airline’s story.

Douglas DC-7B Coolidge
The Douglas DC-7B prepares to depart on July 16 from Coolidge Municipal Airport in Arizona.Bill Van Dyck

Only one of her kind remains: The Douglas DC-7B was a workhorse for several airlines during its tenure in the 1950s and 60s, but none still fly save for N4887C. The airplane has had maintenance completed this summer at the Coolidge Municipal Airport in Arizona in advance of a ferry flight to its new owner—announced on Tuesday, July 16, as the Delta Flight Museum, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Delta Air Lines flew the DC-7 and -7B for many years, from 1954 to 1968, with 21 in the fleet (with 10 of those being -7Bs). Douglas offered the DC-7 as an upgrade from the beloved DC-6, but with faster speed, increased range, and more load-carrying capacity. Its four Wright Duplex Cyclone R-3350s were originally developed prior to World War II, but became somewhat notorious until they reached a steady operational state during the war, eventually powering the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

The DC-7B N4887C was built for Delta in 1957, making its homecoming to the airline even more poignant. It was converted to use as a fire bomber and flew for International Air Response after its retirement from Delta. It was parked at Coolidge for at least 15 years prior to its re-acquisition by the airline.

Only one flight was planned for 87C—a hop to Atlanta, where it will go on display at the museum. However, when the aircraft departed Coolidge on the 16th, the crew noted a problem with engine oil pressure and diverted to Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Upon landing, a hydraulic leak was discovered as well, and it’s expected to require a few days’ work before the airplane continues on to Atlanta.