The Boeing 737 emerged as a brand new aircraft model in 1967.
It was Boeing’s attempt to follow on the success of the 707 and 727 with a smaller aircraft which appealed to airlines flying regional routes with fewer passengers.
Once a commitment arrived from Lufthansa, the manufacturer began production and the first aircraft – a 737-100 – flew on 9 April 1967.
However, despite the overall success of the 737, with thousands having been built today, only 30 of these 737-100s were built.
Why Was the 737-100 Not a Success?
Following Lufthansa’s order, Boeing was keen to follow that up with an order from a major US carrier.
United Airlines had shown interest, and were keen to order the 737. But they wanted some changes to be made. Key among these was extra capacity for passengers.
So Boeing set about adding extra length to the fuselage, resulting in the 737-200, which first flew on 8 August 1967, four months after the -100.
This type proved popular and quickly became the standard model of 737 until a range of additional variants were added in the early 1980s (the -300, -400 and -500).
It offered greater capacity and range, and could therefore be more flexible and profitable for airliners.
Who Flew the 737-100?
The only airlines to order and receive the 737-100 were:
- Avianca Colombia
- Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (later Singapore Airlines)
The small batch that were built were delivered to these carriers and enjoyed success on their networks. However, as time went by they were ultimately sold on to other carriers. These included:
- Aero Continente
- Air California/AirCal
- Air Florida
- Aloha Airlines
- American Airlines
- America West Airlines
- Ansett New Zealand
- Challenge Air International
- Continental Airlines
- COPA Panama
- Far Eastern Air Transport
- Faucett Peru
- Jetran International
- Mexican Air Force
- SAVAR Venezuela
- Servicios Aereos Routos Oriente
- Sierra Pacific Airlines
Are Any 737-100s Still Flying?
Sadly no 737-100s are still flying. Most were retired by the late 1990s, having been superseded by more modern types. They were sent off to storage and scrapping locations to end their lives.
The last 737-100 in airline service was with America West Airlines. However, the Mexican Air Force kept their example in service until 2004.
NASA operated the 737-100 prototype for much of its life, and that also retired in 2004, leaving no others in active service.
Do Any 737-100s Still Exist
Sadly there was not much appetite for preserving the Boeing 737-100, despite its place in history as the genesis for arguably one of the most successful airliner types of all time.
A few existed through the 2000s in storage yards and scrapping compound, but have now all gone.
Thankfully the prototype 737-100 aircraft, N515NA (originally N73700) has been preserved at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. It still wears its NASA livery, and resides among other important Boeing aircraft like the prototype 747 and former Air Force One 707.
What are your memories of the 737-100? Do you remember seeing them in regular service, or did you ever fly on this baby Boeing? Leave a comment below!