Sunday, 3 March 2013

Baby Boeing!

Boeing 747 SP HL7456, in flight over Washington, prior to delivery to Korean Air Lines in 1980/81
A baby Boeing! I'm still not sure whether I think they're the ugliest or the prettiest of the 747s, but the short and fat 'SP' varient is certainly distinctive-looking. 'SP' stands for 'Special Performance', specifically in terms of range. It was originally called 'SB' for 'Short Body' but wiser heads prevailed. Designed in the 1970s at the request of Pan American Airlines and Iran Air, the weight saved by getting rid of so much fuselage meant that the SP could fly further without refueling - meaning that those airlines could run non-stop flights from North America to the Middle East. 

You can't really see it in this picture, but the SPs wingspan is actually greater than its length. The tail is taller than a normal 747, too. Boeing expected to sell more than 200 SPs but the orders never materialised, and ultimately only 45 were ever made. Some are still flying - one services VIP guests coming to and from the casinos in Las Vegas, and one has been converted to an airborne observatory

This particular SP was delivered to Korean Air Lines in 1981, and flew with that airline until 1998, when it was bought by the Boeing Holding Company. It sat at Marana Airport in Arizona for eight years, and attracting no buyers, it was eventually scrapped in 2006. Here's a picture of how it ended up

This image originated from a badly faded, creased and generally crappy 8x10in colour print, found in a junk shop near Seattle. I've done a lot of colour corrections, got rid of the creases and increased the contrast. The result is not completely naturalistic, but I like it. 

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