Runway Classic Video: The Mighty Convair 880 Takes Off Again

After being in storage from 1973 to 1991, former TWA Convair 880 N807J is awakened again for the first time in 18 years, to begin her journey from Mojave, CA. to Atlantic City, NJ. as a fire trainer. It’s screeching and smoky engines makes for a memorable take off.

The Convair 880, and its follow-up, the 990, were designed to compete with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 by being smaller but faster, a niche that simply didn’t work out in the brutal economics of commercial aviation. The result was the world’s most massive corporate loss up to that time. But it was beautifully sleek, with a pointy nose and a narrow fuselage that only sat five across.  The 880 flew like a fighter jet, guzzled fuel, made a racket and belched smoke for miles. Here you can enjoy those screaming CJ-805-3 GE turbojets, a civilian version of the J-79 which powered the F-104 Starfighter, F-4 Phantom, and Convair’s own B-58 Hustler. Of course, the military engines had afterburners, but from the sound and smoke of this 880, you’d think its engines did too.