Lonely Planet Writer

World's first ever Boeing 777 retires to an airplane museum in Arizona

The world’s first ever Boeing 777, which holds a special place in the history of commercial aviation, made its final ever journey last week to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

The first ever Boeing 777 airplane has been donated to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona. Image by Cathay

The iconic airplane made its final flight from Hong Kong to Tucson on 18 September, leaving behind a 24-year career in the sky. The airplane (line number WA001 and registered B-HNL) was the first ever 777-200 built by Boeing. Its maiden voyage was 12 June 1994 and it was used as a test airplane for several years before eventually joining Cathay Pacific’s fleet in 2000. It was flown on regular passenger service until its retirement last week. Throughout its career, the jet performed 20,519 flights for the airline, racking up 49,687 hours of flying time in total.

Cathay Pacific is keen to keep its fleet as modern as possible and is taking advantage of new technology. They’re slowly retiring their Boeing 777 jets and will welcome the new 777-9 aircraft from 2012. Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg said: “As the world’s very first 777, B-HNL holds a very special place in the history of both our airline and that of commercial aviation, and we are very pleased it will soon bring enjoyment to enthusiasts at its new home in Arizona.

“Our 777-200 aircraft have served us exceptionally well over the last two decades, and as we progressively retire these over the months ahead, we eagerly look forward to welcoming the state-of-the art 777-9 aircraft into our fleet from 2021,” he added.

Thousands of retired aircraft are lined up in the Arizona desert. Image by Steve Proehl / Getty Images

The Boeing 777 will now be on display alongside more than 350 aircraft, including an R-71 Blackbird spy plane, a Wright Flyer, a 787 Dreamliner and a massive B-52 bomber, in the Pima Air and Space Museum. The extraordinary aircraft museum traces the history of civilian and military aviation and is open to the public between 9am and 5pm daily.

Nearby, the Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Group – aka the ‘Boneyard’ – is a vast graveyard for 4000 or so aircraft which are kept intact by the dry desert air and is well worth a visit for plane spotters. Bus tours cost US$7 and are only available through Pima Air and Space Museum. Call to book ahead.