The Boeing 720 is a short to medium range aircraft designed for domestic routes and shorter runways. It was originally called the Boeing 707-020, but the name was changed to the Boeing 720. This was because United Airlines had already ordered the Douglas DC-8 over the 707, and its President William A. Patterson didn’t want to be seen to be going back on that.
Designed to carry as many as 130 passengers up to 2,735 kilometres (1,700 miles), the aircraft was 9 feet shorter than the Boeing 707 and incorporated weight reducing features such as a thinner skin and smaller undercarriage wheels. An advertisement by the manufacturer claimed the 720 was the fastest in its class with a 615mph (990km/h) cruising speed.
Boeing 720 Video
Following on from the last video about the Vickers Vanguard turboprop, we cross back to the USA for a look at the Boeing 720. Running for just under nine minutes, the below film was made by American Airlines to introduce the aircraft, which they called the Astrojet.
While the sound is not great, it does point out the differences between the Boeing 720 versus the 707. It is also great to see the jet engine explained, with the difference between turbojet and turbofan outlined. Notable is how much smoke the jet engines produce, which is something they had to fix pretty smartly.
The aircraft first took to the sky on 23 November 1959 and entered service with United on 5 July 1960, flying from Los Angeles to Chicago via Denver. American Airlines put the jet into service from 31 July 1960.
Other airline operators included Aer Lingus, Braniff, Eastern Air Lines, Western, Northwest, Avianca, El Al, Ethiopian Airlines, Pakistan Airlines and Saudia. One was even used in a spectacular crash test in 1984, which you may have seen.
Eventually 154 Boeing 720’s rolled off the production line through to 1967. The last one was flown to a museum on 9 May 2012. The short to medium haul role it was designed for was eventually taken over by the very successful Boeing 727 and Boeing 737.
Did you ever experience a flight on a Boeing 720? Who with and what was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons.