The Prototype "Baby Boeing"
The 737 is the smallest and most popular jetliner in the Boeing airline family. Since 1967, over 8,000 "Baby Boeings" have been built or ordered. The short-haul 737 is dependable, economical and can operate from unprepared grass and gravel runways -- making it a popular choice of many airlines throughout the world.
The Museum's aircraft is the first production 737. The prototype made its first flight with Brien Wygle and Lew Wallick at the controls on April 9, 1967. Boeing used the 737 as a flight test aircraft before it became NASA's Transport Systems Research Vehicle in 1974. Based at the Langley Research Center in Virginia, the 737 was used to test many technological innovations including a virtual cockpit, electronic flight displays, and airborne wind shear detection systems.
"The 737 was a wonderful plane," says NASA research pilot Lee Person. "It could do things that other airplanes simply couldn't." High praise from the former Marine fighter pilot who's flown over 130 aircraft in his 41-year career, including the Hawker XV-6A Kestrel (forerunner to the Harrier jet fighter). From 1974 to 1995, Person and fellow pilot Dick Yenni flew the 737 prototype in more than 20 different aerial research projects for NASA.
This aircraft is on loan from NASA, Langley Research Center.