The long established Douglas Aircraft Company entered the commercial jet market with the Douglas DC-8. First flying from Long Beach Airport on 30 May 1958, it entered service on 18 September 1959 with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

Douglas had a reputation for popular piston engine aircraft, with examples such as the DC-3, DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 being very successful. Many airlines chose to enter the jet age with the DC-8, rather than choosing the competing Boeing 707.

Douglas DC-8 Video

Following on from last weeks video on the Sud Aviation Caravelle, we cross the Atlantic to look at the Douglas DC-8. Below is a promotional film produced by Douglas and it runs about 13 minutes.

There is quite a bit of detail on the manufacturing of the aircraft. I especially liked the comment about the factory being the only one that exclusively builds jet aircraft!

Water tank testing for fatigue is shown, as this was the only way to be sure the fuselage was strong enough to withstand pressurisation at that time. Footage of the first flight shows how smokey the Pratt & Whitney JT3C engines originally were.

Later in the video, you can see cabin designs as well as the nose air scoops which are unique to the aircraft. It’s certainly fun to hear about the speed of the aircraft plus the efforts to keep the noise to bearable levels!

The Super 70s

Between 1982 and 1988, 110 Douglas DC-8 aircraft received new engines as part of a conversion programme. This replaced the Pratt and Whitney JT3D’s with far quieter and more efficient CFM56 turbofans.

Due to this, the DC-8 was in service far longer than the Boeing 707 in a mainline passenger carrying role. Even today there are reported to be a couple of aircraft still flying.

Overall Thoughts

There were 556 Douglas DC-8 aircraft produced before production ended in 1972. Major operators are a who’s who of the airline world, with airlines such as Pan American, Swissair, SAS, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, Alitalia, and Air Canada on the list.

Have you ever flown on board a DC-8? 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 RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons.
Delta DC-8-71 by Perry Hoppe via