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Aviation History Month Day 14 - 14th of November 1965

A Boeing 707-349C leased from Flying Tigers Line, registered as N322F (s/n 18975) took off from Honolulu on this day in 1965. Its destination, Honolulu! That in itself doesn't have to be out of the ordinary, only this flight would make a few stops and would fly over the North- and Southpole. The nickname for the aircraft for the flight, "Pole Cat".

Flying Tiger Line Boeing 707-349C N322F


The aircraft was leased by two retired Trans World Airline Pilots, they had 27 passengers on board. One of them Colonel Willard F. Rockwell Sr. (Founder of the Rockwell Cooperation) funded a big part of the flight. The flight crew for the flight consisted of 11 men;

  • 5 Captains - Fred Lester Austin Jr. (Lessee) - Harrison Finch (Lessee) - Jack Martin (Chief Pilot Flying Tigers Line) - Robert N. Buck (TWA) - James R. Gannett ( Boeing Senior Engineering Test Pilot)

  • Three Navigators, one of them John Larson (Chief Navigator of TWA) planned most of the flight

  • Three Flight Engineers

The aircraft was equipped with a state of the art (for the time) Litton Systems Inertial Navigation System and a Collin Radio Single Side Band (SSB) radio. Besides the 27 passengers, Auxiliary fuel cells were put on board the aircraft in the cabin to provide the extra long-range flying capability. With the aircraft being a Boeing 707-349C, where the "C" stand for Combi, a combination of freight (forward cabin) and passengers (aft cabin).

The fuel cells being loaded The fuel cells in the cabin The flight would be flown in 5 sectors;

  1. Honolulu (Hawaii) to London Heathrow (UK) After take-off they headed north for the North Pole, after reaching the pole they turned out for London

  2. London Heathrow (UK) - Lisbon (Portugal) This was not the planned sector, due to runway restrictions at Heathrow they had a limited take-off fuel quantity. So a fuel stop was scheduled in Lisbon.

  3. Lisbon (Portugal) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) Another fuel stop was made here.

  4. Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Christchurch (New Zeeland) After take-off from Buenos Aires, they set off on a southerly heading for the South Pole. After circling the pole four times they headed north to Christchurch

  5. Christchurch (New Zeeland) to Honolulu (Hawaii) After a final fuel stop, they headed 'home' Honolulu.

They landed back in Honolulu on the 17th of November 62 hours, 27 minutes and 35 seconds after take-off after having flown 22793 nm (26.230 miles - 42.213). In the logbook for the aircraft. This resulted in an average speed of 364.8 knots (419.9 mph - 675.8 kph) from Take-off to Landing in Honolulu. The total flight time for the 5 sectors was 57 hours and 27 minutes. The Boeing 707-300 was a stretched version of the original model the Boeing 707-120. It also featured a redesigned wing and tail, powered by 4 P&W JT3D-3B engines.

Engine #1 & #2, P&W JT3D-3B, on a Boeing 707-300

Some specifications for the Boeing 707-300:

  • Length 152' 11" (46.61 meters)

  • Span 145' 9" (44.43 meters)

  • Tail height 42' 5" (12.93 meters)

  • Empty weight 146.400 lbs (66.406 kg)

  • MTOW 333.600 lbs (151.318 kg

  • Engines P&W JT3D-3B - 18,000 lbf thrust each

  • Vmo 480 knots (552 mph - 889 kph)

  • Range (max fuel) 5740 nm (6.617 miles - 10649 kilometers)


(Editorial note, several dates are mentioned for the start of this flight, both the 14th and 15th November)


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