The McDonnell Douglas DC-8 was a true staple of aircraft technology when it appeared, being built in the period between 1958 and 1972 by Douglas Aircraft Company. Its biggest competition was the Boeing 707 and the decision to stop making came as larger width designs took the market, like the DC-10 and the Boeing 747.

The DC-8’s history was marked by numerous exciting events. Some are better known than others though, so Tech Surprise made this list of:

Historical facts that you most likely do not know about the DC-8 Jet Airliner

  1. Douglas started to study jet transportation in secret during the middle of 1952, which was actually before the launch of the 707.
  2. Douglas took a gamble that jet airliners would be preferred by transportation companies, so a significant investment was put into the development of the DC-8 and marketing it.
  3. The first buyer of the DC-8 is usually listed as being Pan American World Airways, which also placed an order for Boeing 707s at the same time. However, the first customer was National Airlines, a Miami-based carrier.
  4. The domestic DC-8 version, JT4 powered, was $5.46 million in the year 1960.
  5. The DC-8 was half a million cheaper than the Boeing 707 upon launch.
  6. The very first DC-8 took flight in 1958, on May 30.
  7. The advertising campaigns for the DC-8 were among the best of the era, including some rare elements, like removing shadows from prints to put the accent on points of interest.
  8. Initially, testing and production of the DC-8 should have started at the Santa Monica Airport, but this required the runway to be lengthened by 5,000 feet. Neighbour’s complained, so Douglas decided to use Long Beach Airport.
  9. To quickly close the gap with Boeing and it’s 707, Douglas chose to use 10 aircraft for testing purposes and to get certified by the FAA.
  10. The Douglas DC-8 made history on the 21st of August, 1961, as it reached Mach 1.012, breaking the sound barrier. This was done through a 41,000 feet controlled dive. The top speed was maintained for an impressive (for the time) 16 seconds.
  11. The first carrier that flew a DC-8 was Delta Air Lines.

Initially, Douglas did not want to offer different fuselages. However, because the competition was suggesting this, eventually, 3 new models were launched in 1965, the Super Sixties. This practically saved the entire project, starting the passenger aircraft that had the largest capacity to carry passengers on the market right then.

  • The DC-8 was so good that in May 2009, there were still 97 aircraft of its kind that was operating. In 2013, January, 36 were running around the world.
  • A total of 556 DC-8s were produced between 1960 and 1972. Most of them, 262, were DC-8-60 series.

So much more can be said about the beautiful DC-8, an actual jet plane that made history and was appreciated by many. However, eventually, the project had to be closed, mainly because of a lack of adaptability and a need to get quieter jet planes in the air.