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Illustrated technical information covering Vol 2 Over 800 multi-choice systems questions Close up photos of internal and external components Illustrated history and description of all variants of 737 Databases and reports of all the major 737 accidents & incidents History and Development of the Boeing 737 - MAX General flightdeck views of each generation of 737's Technical presentations of 737 systems by Chris Brady Detailed tech specs of every series of 737 A collection of my favourite photographs that I have taken of or from the 737 Press reports of orders and deliveries Details about 737 production methods A compilation of links to other sites with useful 737 content Study notes and technical information A compilation of links to major 737 news stories with a downloadable archive A quick concise overview of the pages on this site


The maiden flight of the 737 was on 9 April 1967, just two years after the launch of the project. In command was Boeing's assistant Director of Flight Operations, Brien Wygle and the Chief Test Pilot, Lew Wallick was co-pilot.

Brien Wygle and the chief test pilot, Lew Wallick

The official story is that the two and a half hour flight from Boeing Field to Paine Field was uneventful and Wygle even radioed down during the flight to say “I hate to quit, the airplane is a delight to fly.” (see the newspaper advert at the foot of this page).

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*** Updated 23 Nov 2020 ***

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One of the fascinating things about running this website is the interesting people who get in touch with me passing on their stories and insights. I received this one last year from an engineer that, as a young man, worked at Boeing. He worked in minor structural test, major structural test and finally, and very luckily, Flight test on the 737 program. He says:

“Your site contains one very common error about the 737 program that was propagated, I suspect, by a press that was not paying attention.  The first flight was on 9 April 1967, I was there to see it.  However, it did not happen anywhere near as described.  The flight was delayed that day by minor electrical system troubles common to any new complex machine.  There was a breaker that would not stay in.  The press had been informed of the flight, of course, and were all waiting make deadlines.  They had been issued (I suspect) press kits.  After some delay it was decided to go ahead without solving the problem.  Take off was made to the north on Boeing Field (BFI) runway 31L.  I am unsure as to what happened in the cockpit but the aircraft did not complete a "two and one half hour flight".  It instead did a large pattern and landed back on 31L ten to fifteen minutes after take-off, taxing back to the Boeing ramp.  It had never been planned to go Paine field and was fundamentally based a BFI for the entire flight test program.  Although some testing was done at Grant County airport and Edwards Air Force Base. There was one and only one 737 (tail number N73700) moving under its own power at that time.  There was a second 737 (a -200, tail number N9001U) also parked at the same ramp that the prototype returned to.  The second aircraft was in United colors and it was not possible to confuse it with the prototype.  As the prototype taxied in the news folks were packing there cameras.  N73700 taxied up and was backed in right next to them by a tug.  When I got home that evening I was treated, on TV, to the same story about the two and one half hour flight.  Since then every account I have ever seen tells the story of the glorious first flight.  Now that I am retired I am a making minor effort to correct the record.

Another thing that may be of interest to you is this:  During the first twenty five hours of testing, that is to say during the period where the FAA allowed only minimum crew on board, there was spin incident.  The aircraft was equipped with an escape chute for bail out and the crew had chutes - although they did not have them on.  The parachutes were stored in a wooden parachute rack just aft of the cockpit and adjacent to the escape chute.  They were doing approach to stalls.  There was an asymmetrical deployment of the leading edge devices (port side I believe).  The aircraft entered a spin, recovery was affected by asymmetric application of power.  I later heard it reported that Brien said if he had been wearing his chute or had an ejection seat, he would have been gone.”

The advert below was placed by Boeing in various aviation journals and newspapers after the first flight of the 737 on 9 April 1967.

Flight testing continued at a blistering pace with the prototype clocking up 47hr 37min in the first month. Soon six aircraft, including the first -200, were on the flight test & certification program. Between them they flew 1300hrs of flight tests. Many changes were made to the aircraft in this time, e.g. trying inflatable main landing gear door seals, although these were soon changed to the present rubber strips.

However the earliest 737's had some problems, including clamshell door thrust reversers (from the 727) that didn't work properly, and a shimmy in the landing gear, but it was a good airplane from the start, recalls Brien. FAA type certification A16WE was gained on 15 Dec 1967.

The -100 was 94ft (28.65m) long, carried 115 passengers and had an MTOW of just 42,411Kgs, less than half that of the current -900 series. The original choice of powerplant was the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 at 14,000Lbs thrust, but by the time negotiations with Lufthansa had been completed the JT8D-7 was used. The -7 was flat rated to develop the same thrust at higher ambient temperatures than the -1 and became the standard powerplant for the -100.

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