Farewell to an Old Workhorse

By: Category: EventsFriendsPHXSpottingUncategorized

Without so much as a whimper, the last operational US Airways “West” Boeing 737 made its final journey home on ovember 29th.  The aircraft tasked with this assignment, N305AW, touched down in Phoenix, AZ at 1:31 pm, operating as “Cactus 48” from Las Vegas, NV.

Among the passengers on the nearly-empty flight was a retired America West Airlines captain who had begun his career with the airline on the day it commenced operations on August 1st, 1983, as well as a small contingent of other employees and aviation enthusiasts.  After landing the flight was cleared into gate A5, where it was met by a group of pilots and other US personnel there to commemorate the unceremonious event, and as the engines spooled down, another chapter of America West Airlines history came to a close.

N305AW, a Boeing 737-3G7, rolled off the factory floor in Renton, WA on September 12th, 1988, and was delivered new to America West Airlines 29 days on October 11th.  After just over 23 years of service with America West and later US Airways, the aircraft has accumulated over 72,000 hours of flying time and logged over 47,000 takeoffs and landings.  The future for aircraft 305 remains uncertain due to its age.  A few of its sister ships who were withdrawn from service in the early half of 2011 have already met the scrapper’s torch in Goodyear, AZ, although the possibility still xists for another carrier to step in and assume a new lease on the aircraft.

While US Airways still operates over 40 737-300s and -400s for the “East” portion of the airline, they have remained relatively segregated to routes operated east of the Mississippi, marking this event as likely the last time that a US Airways 737 will be seen in Phoenix.

Peter Van Dyke Kyle Boyd spent the morning out at LAS from an earlier flight on Southwest. And this is his story about the flight.I spent the days prior to the first flight to Las Vegas watching the seats fill up, worrying that I would miss out on the history making flight, so I got one of the last seats on Southwest flight #1864 to LAS, even though it departed 30 minutes late at 7 am, it was still worth it.

After arriving in LAS, I spent the next 4 hours wondering the airport and watching some airplane depart to their destinations.Finally 11 am arrived and so did US Airways flight #600 from Phoenix. Operating the flight was N305AW. This particular aircraft has been flying with America West since 1988, and with US Airways since the 2005 merger. Fellow spotter Peter Van Dyke was able to grab the last seat on that flight. After talking for a bit, it was now time to board. With boarding going smoothly the Captain made an announcement of the historical last flight and within a few minutes we taxied out to the runway. With only a slight delay due to departing traffic on other runways, we were soon rolling down the runway and flying in the air!

The flight was smooth, with clear skies and great views. It reminded me of what it used to be like flying with HP. Sadly though it wouldn’t last forever. Within an hour after departing LAS, we were about to arrive in PHX. Touchdown was rough, but it wasn’t the worst landing I’ve been in. The flight was a little early so we had to wait for a gate. Finally the gate opened up but it was disappointing to find out that there was no water cannon salute for the last revenue flight of HP 737’s, but there isn’t much you can do about it.

I grabbed a few more photos and also met fellow spotter, Jason Bong who was able to get some photos of the planes arrival.   And so that ends another chapter in America West history.  With the 737’s gone, this only leaves the 319’s/320’s and 757 aircraft. Which over time, will also be retired from service, but hopefully this won’t be any time soon.

We would also like to thank Dave Budd for taking some photos when N305AW landed at KLAS.

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