Back when Elvis was all the rage, Leave It to Beaver was on the television, and turtlenecks were officially “in,” Douglas DC-7Bs were transporting passengers to and from their destinations with all the comforts of home.
Outfitted with an upscale passenger lounge in the rear of the cabin, and capable of more raw power than their DC-7 counterparts, Delta’s fleet of 10 DC-7Bs took air-based transportation to the next level. The model was retired in 1968, but one of these historic gems is getting another chapter.
Landlocked Aviation Services is currently donating its time to paint the last remaining Douglas DC-7B—Ship 717—on behalf of its long-time customer Delta Airlines. The refinished airplane will be displayed at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, Georgia.
“We view customers like partners and friends,” said Reed Friese, vice president of operations at Landlocked. “Our friend Delta had a need, and we wanted to help them achieve their goal of getting this project on display in the Delta museum.”
Landlocked CEO Tyson Grenzebach became aware of the paint-stripped DC-7B—which Delta was storing in Atlanta after acquiring it in 2019—while he was working in Atlanta on a separate project for Delta. Grenzebach offered to help.
Landlocked already had 20 employees there on assignment, so crews got to work right away prepping and coating the aircraft. Later, Delta will complete detail work and add clear coat.
“We love to work on ‘special projects’ especially projects that help tell the historical story of aviation,” said Friese. “We are proud to be in a position to help.”
Delta discovered the aircraft several years ago in quiet Coolidge, Arizona, under the care of Woody Grantham, its longtime owner and the founder of International Air Response. Delta struck a deal with Grantham to purchase Ship 717 with the goal of proudly displaying it back in Georgia.
Mechanics repaired and tested the aircraft in preparation for its last remaining flight from Arizona to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, its first flight in 11 years (Ship 717 had helped fight fires on the West Coast before entering retirement in sunny Arizona in 2008).
“Saying goodbye to this beautiful airplane is truly a bittersweet moment for me,” said Grantham. “Even as we fly on some of the latest and greatest new airplanes of today, I think it’s so important that we never lose our touch with history, and I can’t express how happy it makes me to see the DC-7B going home to be celebrated and immortalized at the Delta Flight Museum.”