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Continental Airlines Douglas DC-7B


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Continental Airlines

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historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1961

SKU: Model-0276 Categories: ,

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The Douglas DC-7 was an American transport aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1953 to 1958. An upgrade of the DC-6, the DC-7 was the last major piston engine-powered transport made by Douglas. The DC-7 was developed shortly after the first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, entered service and only a few years before the jet-powered Douglas DC-8 first flew in 1958. Unlike other aircraft in Douglas’s line of propeller-driven aircraft, no examples of the DC-7 remain in service to this day, compared to the far more successful DC-3 and DC-6 aircraft.

The DC-7 was followed by the DC-7B with had slightly more power and on some DC-7Bs additional fuel tanks over the wing in the rear of the engine nacelles, each carrying 220 US gallons. This first long-range variant with higher gross weight and fuel capacity saw 112 aircraft manufactured.

Continental Airlines, which was last based in Houston, Texas, began as Varney Speed Lines on July 15, 1934 with a single route from El Paso, TX to Pueblo, CO stopping at Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas, NM. Varney Speed Lines, Southwest Division, was created by Walter T. Varney who also created Varney Air Lines based in Pasco, WA which evolved into United Airlines earlier in 1934. The carrier first operated Lockheed 5C Vega aircraft and Wyoming Air Service operated Stinson SM-8A’s followed by Boeing 247D’s. The carriers’ name was changed to Varney Air Transport in late 1934 and Trinidad, Colorado was added to the El Paso-Pueblo route. In 1937 Varney began obtaining Lockheed Electra aircraft and purchased the Pueblo-Colorado Springs-Denver route segments from Wyoming Air Service which extended the north-south route from El Paso all the way to Denver. Robert F. Six joined the airline in 1935 and soon became President and CEO, changing the carriers’ name to Continental Air Lines on July 1, 1937. Six would go on to oversee the carrier for the next 44 years until 1981. A ticket office was first opened in the Hotel Franciscan in downtown Albuquerque, and then moved to the Hilton Hotel by 1939.

For a short time in 1961, Continental operated a much larger Douglas DC-7 aircraft on a Denver-Albuquerque-El Paso-San Antonio route and on July 13, 1962 the carrier introduced their first jet service to Albuquerque with the Boeing 720B. Continental succumbed to bankruptcy and completely shut down in late 1983 but made a slow recovery and reinstated flights back from Albuquerque to Denver by summer 1984 followed soon by flights to Houston

The Douglas DC-7 was the largest aircraft in the Douglas line of four-engine prop airliners. It was in competition with the Lockheed Constellation. Continental Airlines briefly flew the DC-7B to Albuquerque in 1961 on a route between Denver and San Antonio, Texas, stopping at Albuquerque and El Paso. One aircraft used was #N62704.