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Douglas DC-9

By Patrick Mondout

The DC-8 was the first commercial jet ever produced by Douglas. It could fly long distances and yet was smaller than the Boeing 707. The airlines then asked for an even smaller/more efficient jet for shorter flights. British Aircraft Corporation answered first with the BAC One-Eleven. Douglas responded with the DC-9 (which became the MD-80 and now survives as the Boeing 717). Boeing answered with the 737.

The BAC 1-11 did quite well at first but was not developed into derivatives for specific airlines as fast or as well as either the slow selling (at first) 737 or the DC-9. It soon faded away and left the market to Douglas and Boeing (until Airbus arrived with the A320 in the Awesome80s).

Douglas DC-9

Here's a happy PSA DC-9 (N707PS) seen at the Ontario airport in California, May 1985.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

Douglas DC-9 at a Glance
EnginesPratt & Whitney JT8D-5 turbofans
Cruising Speed563
Passengers115 (105 standard)
Span93ft 5in
Length119ft 3.5in
Height27ft 6in
Final Production1999
Specifications refer to the DC-9-30


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about the Douglas DC-9? Were you a member of the flight crew on one? Have you any interesting stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"A tribute to the great design of this wonderful bird is the fact that Boeing still maintains the assembly line of its latest incarnation, the 717. The silhouette of the DC9 is still the most beautiful of all modern jetliners, and many original examples are still serving proudly in the air (I flew a Northwest DC9 a couple of years ago, and it was still in great shape). In its later version (MD80 and MD90), it has been the backbone of American and Delta Airlines, with excellent reliability and safety. And it's just so much prettier than anything Airbus could ever produce!!"


"The DC-9 had just about the least convenient and ugliest cabin layout around, with open overhead stowage shelves instead of bins which were only introduced much later. The original engines were noisy and smoky, leaving soot all over the tailcone after only a few cycles. It was much improved in the Super-80 series. I just flew on an Alitalia one today and that reminded me of how beautifully and easily the DC-9/Super-80 flies."


"The DC-9 and its descendents (the MD-80s, MD-90 and Boeing 717) are still strikingly beautiful aircraft, and the fact that they are still the backbone of many a passenger airline service is testament to the solidity of the design. It's a safe and solid airframe, and still perfect for the short- and medium-haul markets. Northwest's DC-9s have "new look" interiors and are impeccably maintained, fpr example, and one would never know that the planes were 25-30 years old. The 717 is a gorgeous plane, I might add. I hope Boeing keeps making them!"


"I particularly remember how quickly the 10 series which I flew to Detroit leaped off the runway here at FWA. I also thought the engines sounded really cool especially when the pilot shut one engine off after landing and taxied in on the opposite outboard engine. When he stopped just short of the gate awaiting the ground man's hand signals he had to smoothly stroke the thrust lever to a high rpm to get the plane rolling up the slight incline grade to the gate. I'll sure miss those P&W JT8D-7B turbofan's when all are retired."


"As an aviation buff and an Airline Manager, I fondly recall the DC-9, When I was with AC we only had two of the models, the 15 short series and the 32 series. Boy I recall dispatching one to Cleveland with only one passenger and 4 flight attendants. Gone are the days of those where schedules were schedules and slot times decreed the committed departure."


"I love the DC-9, even my email address is "". I had the great honor of flying one for about 10 years for USAIR. I got about 6000 hours or so during that time. Let me start by saying it flew like a dream. The pilot still flew the plane then and not the computers. Once you became "one" with the plane, you knew you had a fine sense of flying. run down the really fine things about the 9:

I can think of NO ONE ever getting sucked into the engine of the DC9, but sadly the 737 can not say the same thing.
The wing, being clear of engines, could be optimised to fly and not to just hold the engines.
The 9 had two different sets of internal stairs, making service to smaller airfields quite easy. The stairs at the main cabin door and the ventral stairs in the tail. Either were quite fine.
Oh the sound in the cockpit of the 9 was so quiet compared to the lesser boeing types like the 737. In the MD80 it was so quiet you were not sure the engines were running without checking the instruments.
The bathrooms were in the tail of our DC9's and you could never smell that awful fluid. On the 737 it frequently stunk up the cockpit.
Even in the event of a rudder hardover, one could lift one lever and turn off the hydraulics to the rudder and still have ffull manual reversion. The 737 has NO manual reversion for the rudder and takes many switches to turn of the hydraulics to the rudder.

Simply put, the DC9 was a really fine plane and I have the utmost respect for the designers, and builders of the plane. To anyone involved in the dc9, I say THANKS.

I would rather fly a well maintained 30 year old DC9 than a brand new 777 or 'bus. It truly is the last "pilot's" airliner.

On my last flight on the dc9, I placed a gentle, heartfelt kiss on the side of the fuselage near the main door. Sadly, the plane was retired from service before I could make captain. I had to make captain on the 737 and boy was I dissapointed with that plane. I've never had more electrical, hydraulic, control problems with a plane. But that is for a different forum."


"Hello My name is Ron I started out helping building the ninth DC-9 and the Customer was Bonanza Airline such a beautiful paint job white background with black and Bronze stripes. I started working for Douglas Aircraft June 1965. My very first job was working in the aft cargo with the hardshell fiberglass . I also worked on the Horizonal stablizer which is the whole tail. I helped out on the Playboy Bunny Airplane all black and white Bunny on the Tail bet that plane was hot in the summer time hope it had a strong airconditioner on it. I worked on the center over wing floors and cockpit floors later on when it was named the MD Super 80. It was a very good on jet fuel and comfortable being a passenger .

The forward leading edges had holes in them to defrost the wings in cold weather so lots of MD Awesome80s were used in places where it snowed a lot and deiced the wings very effectly. I worked at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach for 33 years I guess the DC 9 was an important Jet Liner in my life that I use DCNINER02 as my email address.

Aircraft building was a good job for me and he DC 9 has been very good for lots of Airlines and has been built for many years 39 years as of 2004. Now it goes by the name of the Boeing 717 now but still a very good Jet plane in our skies today. Lots of other good Aircraft Mechanics has helped build the DC 9 and very proud to have helped build them. Hawaiian Air really had a beautiful paint job with the Hawaiian Flower on the tail. DC 9 was also called the twin jet and some how I had twin boys in the Awesome80s too bad I did not get a picture of them in Pilot and co pilot uniforms next to a DC 9 twin jet might have made for a good advertisement. Twin Jet for twin boys . I hope Boeing builds more of the twin Jets.

--Ron the riveter (now retired)

"I flew on my first DC-9-30 in 1969 on Ozark;and my last trip on a DC-9-30 was on a trip from MSP to Halifax Nova Scotia in July of 1998 29 years later. I think the DC-9-30 ranks as one of the aircraft that ranks as one of the truly great commercial airliners. The Air Canada DC-9's which I flew on were a trip back in time to the 1960's and Super70s when flying was a lot more enjoyable. The flight was much more comfrtable and cabin roomier with plenty of leg room. It was a vast improvement over a 737 or an A320. The Minneapolis-Toronto leg served a snack which was really a light meal. The flight went over Green Bay Wisconsin and lakes Michigan and Huron before desending into Toronto.

The Captain of the aircraft first name was Barbara and she made a very smooth landing. The Toronto-Halifax leg was flown by a Halifax based crew. The flight attendents on the flight said their favorite trips were on DC-9's. They liked them much better than A320's. I noticed a TWA DC-9-30 taking off for St Louis just before we took off. The plane was about 3/4 full with excellent cabin service all the way to Halifax. Passengers got seconds on Doritos and Cokes. Our arrival was on time at 0035 hrs. The return trip home was also on DC-9's. Our plane back to MSP almost had to return to the gate because of an unattended brief case found by the senior flight attendent. Its idiot owner had moved to another seat and forgot to tell the flight attendent. This was going to be a very long day for the crew. Toronto-MSP then back to Toronto then to Boston where they would overnight then more trips the next day. One thing that bothered me, however, on Air Canada the cockpit door remained open at all times except on take offs and landings. I was very uncomfortable about this and said something to flight attendent. Other than that it was a great trip on vintage aircraft. Air Canada only flew DC-9's on this route for a short time so I really cherished the trip. I really liked the DC-9. In addition to Air Canada;I liked Delta and Republic DC-9 trips the best. Sadly I have not flown on Northwest DC-9 trip since the merger with Republic in 1986. 757's, DC-10's, 747's and both A320's and A319's, but no DC-9."




A Playboy Enterprises (!!!) DC-9-32 seen at LAX in April, 1971.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

Model: DC-9

Manufacturer: Douglas

Country: U.S.

First Flight: February 25, 1965

First Passenger Flight: December 8, 1965

Launch CustomerDelta Airlines

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