‘Mad Dog’ Farewell Flight: American Airlines retires MD-80

It’s the last time you’ve seen an American Airlines MD-80 flying! Nicknamed as ‘Mad Dog’ the silver polished aircraft has been the airline’s workhorse for many decades. But last Wednesday, the American carrier retired the Super 80 planes after flying its last revenue flight of the classic MD-80 marking the end of the ride for the shiny domestic workhorse.

Since 1983, the aircraft has been performing the short-medium haul routes for American Airlines. While the airline operated only 3 of them initially but its numbers gradually grew in later years. By 2003, the airline had 362 crisscrossing the sky. Also, other airlines such as Trans World Airlines and Delta were also operating MD-80 aircrafts.

Farewell Flight of MD-80

Despite its legendary status among pilots and passengers, the aircraft had been slowly fading from the skies; being replaced by newer ones with the latest technology. Whereas no aircraft is immune to the slow, steady march of time, Boeing 747 too shares a similar fate with the Mad Dog. The world’s largest airline has said goodbye to one of its longest-standing workhorse aircraft, ending its 37-year-long flying career. The MD-80’s final American Airlines revenue flight, AA80 departed from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 9 a.m. and arrived at Chicago O’Hare around 11:30 a.m. Fans of the Mad Dog took to Twitter to share their memories. Good bye Mad Dog!

At the Texas airport, American employees took turns posing with giant letters and numbers made of silver balloons arranged to spell out MD-80. Music from the ‘80s blared. And clusters of airline employees wore red T-shirts with the date and an image of an MD-80’s engines and tail. The airline will ferry the last 23 of its Super 80 jets to a desert parking lot in Roswell, N.M, with one staying at Dallas Fort Airport to be used for future de-icing practice. Two more will be donated to flight-training schools.

American Airlines' employees bid farewell to MD-80
American Airlines’ employees bid farewell to MD-80


Farewell Flight of MD-80
Farewell Flight of MD-80

History of the Mad Dog

This iconic aircraft is a product of McDonnell Douglas. Perhaps, its an elongated version of the Douglas Aircraft Company’s DC-9. Well known for its famous T-tail and rear-mounted engines, the aircraft entered development in the late 1970s when McDonnell Aircraft merged with Douglas Aircraft Company. Its unique 2-3 layout with the aisle/window combo became the favorite for those who liked the window seat and liked to stretch out in flight without disturbing too many people.

Unfortunately, the aircraft couldn’t keep up with the technological advancements that the industry was seeing and it started falling behind. With fuel becoming a more and more of a variable cost, many airlines made the decision to invest in more fuel-efficient aircraft to reduce the risk that fluctuated fuel prices caused. Even the MD-90, which incorporated the V2500 engines that the A320 family uses, wasn’t enough to sustain the aircraft. Eventually, airlines moved on to models with the latest technology, better fuel efficiency, additional seats including more computerized cockpits. The routes dominated by the Mad Dog were taken over by the newer version of jet families namely Boeing Co. 737 and Airbus SE’s A320.


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