I was on my way to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to view the exhibits and see the Space Shuttle Endeavour when something caught my eye. A complete United Douglas DC-8 was sitting in front of a building right beside the road.
That was probably the last thing I expected to see en route to my destination in an Uber. It got me curious – what was it doing there and how long had it been there?
United Douglas DC-8
United Airlines was the launch customer of the Douglas DC-8, along with Delta Air Lines. Both carriers put the aircraft into service on 18 September 1959. The example in Los Angeles registered N8066U was delivered on 1 April 1966 and is a DC-8-52.
The aircraft was retired in 1980 after 14 years with the airline and was donated to the museum. It arrived in LA on 18 June 1984 and seems to have sat around for a while, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times from 1987.
Eventually it was mounted on its pedestal in 2002 where it remains today. IAC Aircraft Painting restored the exterior of the aircraft to keep it looking fresh and that’s how it is today.
Can You Go Inside?
Quite frankly, I would have leapt at the chance to go inside, but it doesn’t seem to be possible. There is no way to get up there, let alone open a door and walk right in. Luckily we have a video from 1965 called “Plane Talk” that shows what it must have been like when it was delivered.
From six minutes into the video, the guy boards a United Douglas DC-8 and you can see the interior. Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? The entire video is worth checking out, as it’s a real look into air travel back in the 1960s.
It’s always nice to see an aircraft preserved, even if you are unable to go inside. The United Douglas DC-8 in Los Angeles certainly gets your attention when passing by in a car.
Luckily it is in sunny California, so the elements shouldn’t be ruining the plane too much. Now, if only I could find some way to get in… I should have taken training as a cat burgler!
Have you seen this Douglas DC-8 in Los Angeles? Ever been inside? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Restoration image via Aviation24.be.
My last flight on a United DC-8 was between BDL and DEN in 1981. I recall it to be spacious inside, with those squarish windows making it easier to see out from my window seat. They had the two-flip divided tray table back then. And those four engines had a lot of muscle! By then, the DC-8 was an older plane which is why I recall that flight so well. Had the opportunity to fly quite a bit as a kid and it was my favorite thing to do. So, I do recall models such as the DC-8, B-707, B-727,… Read more »
Those windows on the DC-8 are the largest on any jet airliner, even larger than the 787. I wrote an article about the window sizes – https://travelupdate.com/aircraft-largest-windows/ – which you might find interesting. Nice to hear from someone who was there and remembers the details like the tray table. Of those, I’ve only been on the 727, all the rest I missed out on, sadly. I bet you wish you remembered that Connie flight – must have been really something flying on one of those. Thanks for sharing that!
Thank you for linking that article, I hadn’t seen it and learned a lot from it. Never realized just how large those DC-8 windows were. And yes, the pitch in economy was pretty generous back then. I was in high school at the time of that last DC-8 flight and was well over 6 feet tall by then – yet I had no shortage of space. In contrast to any regular economy flight now. So, those large windows that appear far apart (and were) did tend to match the rows – nobody got a non-window aisle back in the day.
You’re welcome! The equivalent today would be premium economy with 38-40″ pitch and I can only imagine how comfortable economy would be if it were like that today. With populations getting taller, you’d think there would be more space rather than less, but people have accepted it, so it’s not going anywhere.
Remember flying one of those from Anchorage to Chicago around 1984 . . . and it seemed outdated even then.
They would have been pretty old around then. I know there was a re-engine programme that United and Delta took advantage of. Delta retired their last one in 1989 and United in 1991, so they had a very long life.