National Airlines was a well run Trunk airline during the 1970s and like Continental built its fleet around two types in that decade - the DC-10 and 727. In 1970 National gained the rights to service Europe and opened a Miami-London route, initially with 747s. European services expanded and the 747s were gradually replaced by the long-range DC-10-30 – National already being a DC-10-10 customer since 1971.
Being well run yet also one of the smallest trunks National was ripe for a takeover at the dawn of deregulation. As is well known after a long and hotly contested bidding process the eventual 'winner' was Pan Am.
Sadly they paid far too much and failed miserably to merge National into themselves - hardly surprising given National's principally North-South route structure's misalignment with feeding Pan Am's hubs. It was yet another serious mistake for Trippe's faltering airline, but it did mean that there was finally the chance, albeit briefly, to see DC-10s in the globe scheme (after PA passed over them for 747SPs and L-1011-500s previously). When Pan Am took over National Airlines in January 1980 it received National’s entire 15 strong DC-10 fleet plus the responsibility for a single outstanding DC-10-30 order. All 15 ex-National DC-10s were sold off to American Airlines in late 1983, partly as the 5 DC-10-30s didn’t fit with PA’s existing Pacific fleet of 747SPs and L1011-500s.
Of the four aircraft in my collection:
N68NA was National’s eighth DC-10 when she was delivered to them named ‘Sylvia’ on 12th December 1972. She was later called ‘Jamie’ and received National’s white bottom livery prior to being transferred to Pan Am along with all other National Airlines assets in 1980. With Pan Am she became ‘Clipper Star Gazer’ though the entire National DC-10 fleet was sold only three years later to American Airlines. This aircraft became N160AA and served them until 1997 when she was transferred to Hawaiian Airlines. Stored in May 2001 she was sold to FedEx and converted to a freighter and then an MD-10, in 2006. She was withdrawn permanently only in February 2013.
N81NA was the second of four DC-10-30s delivered to National for use on transatlantic routes. She was named ‘Renee’ during most of her National career and passed to Pan Am upon their takeover of National in 1980 as ‘Clipper Atmosphere’. They leased her to Lan Chile as CC-CJN for a year in June 81 and eventually sold her to American as N140AA in March 1984. Her career with AA included leases to Transaero (1996-98) and Hawaiian (1998-2003). From November 2003 she joined the fleet of Ghana Airways as 9G-AND. Grounded by July 2004 she was ferried to Mojave to be broken up wearing her AA registration once again.
N82NA was named ‘Marienne’ originally, but later was called both ‘Bob Hope’ and ‘Sammy Davis Jnr’ before being passed to Pan Am. Sold to American in April 1984, as N141AA, who used her until she was leased to first Transaero in 1996 and then Hawaiian in 1999. Her last operator was to be Ghana Airways in late 2003 as 9G-ANE. She was scrapped at Marana in 2005.
N84NA I've already discussed here: Pan Am's Trijet Folly
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: