11/29/1953: American Airlines Introduces the Douglas DC-7

The DC-7's introduction allowed American Airlines to become the first to offer non-stop transcontinental service.



November 29, 2023

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, American Airlines (AA) introduced its first Douglas DC-7 (N305AA) into transcontinental service in 1953.

The inaugural flight was operated from New York Idlewild (now JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX). By doing so, AA became the first airline to provide non-stop transcontinental service in both directions. Trans World Airlines (TWA) commenced non-stop eastbound services in October.

The DC-7 was built specifically for AA to compete with TWA's Lockheed Super Constellations. Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons.

An Airliner for American

Indeed, the DC-7 was built to meet AA's requirements. The airline had requested that Douglas build an aircraft that could compete with TWA's Super Constellations and fly coast-to-coast in around eight hours. 

The planemaker was initially hesitant to build the DC-7 until AA placed an order for 25, covering Douglas' development costs.

In AA service, the type was initially configured for 65 passengers in an all-first-class layout. As more examples arrived, the airline expanded its transcon offering, and by the end of 1954, AA offered three non-stop flights per day between New York and LAX.

Despite being retired from passenger service, 15 of AA's DC-7Bs were converted to freighters and remained in service until 1967. Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons


The DC-7 was a development of the DC-6B and included significant advances over its predecessor. It was the fastest aircraft in service at the time, cruising at a top speed of 580 kilometers (360 miles) per hour.

However, the introduction of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jetliners put an end to the DC-7. AA retired its final DC-7 in August 1962. The airline operated 34 of the original variant and 24 of the upgraded -7Bs.

However, 15 of the airframes found a second life with AA after being converted to freighters. They remained in service until 1967.

Featured image: Pictured at San Diego (SAN) is AA DC-7 (N362AA). Photo: Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons