Widget Legacy: The Delta Flight Museum

Atlanta, Georgia– United States of America.

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Atlanta Hartsfeld-Jackson the mega-hub and home to Delta Airlines.

This city has been home to many iconic business brands that have expanded their names and influence across the world. Some notable examples include the Coca-Cola beverage company, CNN the News network and naturally an Airline based in this “Dixieland” US state has its main home here, Delta Airlines. The only US Airline to operate to all inhabited continents!

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Delta Airlines MD-80 departing ATL with a line up of Boeing 767/777’s bellow.

The former “World’s Larget Airline” from 2008-2013, Delta operates from hubs and focus cities that include ilustrious names from: Los Angles, Salt Lake City, New York (LGA/JFK), Detriot, Minniapolis/St-Paul, Seattle/Tacoma and Boston in the USA and abroad notably at Tokyo (NRT), London (LHR), Amsterdam (AMS) and Paris (CDG).

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FLY DELTA JETS has adorned the main maintenance hanger at Atlanta for decades

But despite all these locations- the airlines one true home is Atlanta and at Hartsfeld-Jackson Airport!

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Boeing 757-200, Boeing 767-400 and McDonnell-Douglas MD-88 at Atlanta awaiting works.

The airport has such a route network from its home-town airline, which has been going since the late 1920s that plenty of people in America have joked “When you die, whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you’ll have to connect through Atlanta” a joke sarcastically satired in an Star Wars themed episode of the annimated sitcom Family Guy in 2011. As an airport and mega hub for the United States only a handful of airports can rival “ATL” equally notably: JFK in New York, LAX in Los Angles, ORD in Chicago, DFW in Dallas, IAH in Houston and MIA in Miami.

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A BMW Mini car sporting a Delta Airline themed design sits outside the Delta Flight Museum.

When doing any photography at Atlanta, Delta Airlines has quite the mixture of aircraft in their fleet as of February 2019 which includes: Boeing 717-200, Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900ER, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 767-400ER (one of two airlines operating this type), Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200ER, Airbus A319/A320, Airbus A321-CEO(WL), Airbus A330-200/-300, Airbus A350-900, McDonnell-Douglas MD-88, McDonnell-Douglas MD-90 from the mainline fleet and regional affiliates operate a variety of: Embraer E-170/190, Bombardier CRJ-700/900, though not seen in ATL at the moment, the Airbus A220 (Bombardier CS-100) is an aircraft that will be seen around this Dixieland Airport very soon!

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The aft section of the first Boeing 747-400 ever built, it served with Northwest Airlines from 1989 to 2008, then with Delta until late 2015. It spends its retirement as the main DFM Exhibit!

Delta Airlines has seen off competition in Atlanta from the likes of Eastern Airlines and ValuJet/Air Tran Airways over the years, and during the deregulation era the airline has swallowed up Northeast Airlines, Western Airlines and Northwest Airlines (who had intern taken over Republic Airways) and the airline had taken a chunk of Pan American World Airways assets prior to the demise of the legendary airline in 1991.

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Delta was one of few airlines to order and operate the Convair 880, this is the nose section from the prototype CV-880

The high profile merger with Northwest from 2008 to 2010 made the airline the largest in the world until 2013. It saw the Boeing 747 and Douglas DC-9 family reintroduced after initial retirements in the late 70s and early 90s, introduced Delta Airlines to European manufacturer Airbus with the Airbus A319, A320 and A330 and doubled the airlines fleet of versatile Boeing 757. A vintage Northwest Airways (forerunner to NWA) Waco 125 representing the major US Legacy carrier is located at the DFM representing the “other half” that made the current Delta what it is today! Having resided at the main NWA hub in Minniapolis St Paul until 2011.

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Delta Airlines Travel Air 6B Sedan, preserved at the Delta Flight Museum.
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This Delta Airlines DC 9-51 saw service with eight airlines from 1975 to 2013.

Delta Airlines has a loyal staff keeping its heritage alive in during the 1980s, the work force at the time bought a Boeing 767-200 airliner to signify their commitment to the airline and its success. The aircraft was christened “THE SPIRIT OF DELTA”.

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Delta Airline’s main flagship is this Boeing 767-200 “The Spirit of Delta”

The aircraft was the flagship of the airline’s fleet from 1983 until its retirement in 2006. Inside the Boeing 767 you get a proper 360 look in the cabin that has its 1980s style first class seating with a Delta history video on play.

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Business Class seats that were used on Delta aircraft during the 1980s/1990s.

The rear of the cabin has various Delta uniforms over the last 75 years on display as well as various aircraft models in colour schemes ranging from the 1960s to the present livery covering almost all the planes they used. It was retired to the Delta Flight Museum collection where it joined another Delta veteran which had began the collection off back in the mid 1990s.

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Classy “jet-age” flight attendant uniforms from Delta Airlines.
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“Spirit of Delta” 767’s flight deck. Which is identical to every other Boeing 757 or Boeing 767 in service today!

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“Ship 41” is a Douglas DC-3 (Dakota) which was the first modern commercial airliner to enter service with Delta Airlines way back in 1940. Though it was the second of the original five DC-3 airliners bought by Delta, it was first to enter passenger carrying service as the previous aircraft only saw crew training services before it entered service a while later. Ship 41 saw 18 years of service in America before retiring off to other airlines, eventually finding itself in Puerto Rico.

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“Ship 41” was Delta Airlines first Douglas DC-3.

A team of dedicated volunteers from Delta wanted to return one of the original five DC-3’s to Atlanta to serve as history for future generations and by sheer luck they found the airworthy “Ship 41” on her last legs in the US Caribbean island- thus brought her back home to Atlanta and following a lengthy restoration, the legendary “Ship 41” is the pride and joy of the Museum alongside her fellow aircraft! Internal Tours of “Ship 41” are offered on the second Tuesday of each month, you will need to wear provided white gloves and shoe covers to protect the interior.

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Delta Airlines preserved this Boeing 757-200 in its original 1980’s retro livery.

Alongside Douglas DC-3 “Ship 41” and Boeing 767-200 “Spirit of Delta” are a Boeing 757-200 in the “Widget” livery that was used from 1962 to 1997 with tiny updates as new aircraft types came and went. A McDonnell-Douglas DC 9-51 is preserved due to Delta’s long history with the DC-9 and its successors (Being the only airline to operate all four types of the family). Both these planes are NOT open to the public unfortunately, external viewing only…

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Standing under the Boeing 747-400, N661US, on a soaking January day in 2018.


But the newest attraction which is on display and is the biggest commercial airline aircraft on display in America is the Boeing 747-451 N661US, the first ever Boeing 747-400 built! This airframe spent most of its life flying for Northwest Airlines and was involved in the infamous NWA flight 85 incident, but it is now the main centre of attention for the Delta Flight Museum and is almost a museum in its own right!

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The flight deck of N661US, it was in this flight deck that Captain Frank Geib and his crew saved this plane from disaster on October 9th 2002.

The plane has a very accessible cabin where you can sit in Delta ONE (Long-haul First Class) seats, Economy Class seats plus see the gutted interior of the plane in the rear half. Whilst the flight deck is sealed off, you can still get an amazing look into the brown electronic flight deck, it is miles apart from the grey “Glass Cockpit” on the early Boeing 747-100/200 series planes preserved in other countries.

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Tail section of Delta Airlines Boeing 747-400, N661US

The museum and its collection are a huge attraction for the general public and people wanting to hire it out for events, however this public attraction status has only been going for 5 years as the museum from 1995 to 2014 was only accessible to Delta Employees, retirees and family. Tickets to the museum start from $15 (USD) and having visited myself, it is worth every penny!

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The way of the future? The Airbus A350-900 is part of the long haul fleet replacement for Delta since 2016.
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