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T-33 Chase Planes enter retirement at Boeing

Johanna Koyser
06.12.2020
2 minutes

We all know them: aerial photographs of aircraft, which often look like a photo collage. But in reality, the pictures are mostly real and taken from escort planes. For these so-called air-to-air photos, Boeing used two T-33 Chase Planes for around 40 years. However, they are now going into their well-deserved retirement.

Called Red Bird and Blue Bird, the two aircraft have accompanied first flights of new Boeing aircraft since 1981. The T-33 Lockheed, which are actually Canadair CL-30s, were made for the job. With their distinctive cockpit canopy, it was always easy for photographers to take great flight pictures of the latest aircraft. But they served not only this purpose. Engineers also took a seat on board the T-33 to observe the Boeing models from the outside during their first flights. The fact that Boeing is now exchanging the Red Bird and Blue Bird for two Douglas T-4A Seahawks means the end of an era, but for simple reasons. After all, both T-33s are already 66 years old and maintenance is becoming more difficult every year. Because there are not many spare parts for such veterans anymore.

To bid farewell, Red Bird and Blue Bird flew a grand tour of Boeing’s production facilities in the Seattle area. What happens to the two birds after they are taken out of service is not yet known. However, it is to be expected that the T-33 with its proud history will probably find a prominent place in a museum.

Picture © Boeing

by Johanna Koyser

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