Happy 40th Birthday To The DC-10

If you’re a regular reader of Flying With Fish you may have noticed I am a ‘three-holer‘ fan.  While my favorite three-holer, the Lockheed L-1011, is all but gone from the skies, the long serving three-holer workhorse of the skies is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its very first flight.

I am not sure how I almost missed this milestone, but David Vanderhoof, from the AirplaneGeeks Show, reminded me this afternoon of this important anniversary in aviation history.

While you’d be hard pressed to find many DC-10s carrying passengers today, with 446 aircraft having been built and nearly all of those remaining in the skies having been converted to freighters … along with 64 built specifically as military air-to-air tankers … these planes are still seen every day in airports around the globe and in the skies the world over.

Even though you may not find yourself seated on a DC-10 any longer, given that the last DC-10 rolled off the assembly line in December 1988, chances are you encounter items that have flown on the DC-10 regularly.  Presently the largest operator of the DC-10 in the world is Federal Express (FedEx), flying 66 DC-10s with another 25 in storage in the desert.

So as the sun sets on the 29th of August all I can say is Happy Birthday to the DC-10. It is comforting to know that dozens of you are in the sky right now and you’ll be in the air tomorrow morning kicking off your 41st year of flying.

Below is a photo I shot of two FedEx DC-10s on the ramp at New York’s JFK Airport.

Happy Flying!

a plane at the airport at night


  1. One of my favorite planes, if not my all-time favorite (struggling between the -10 and 747).

    Don’t have my flightmemory finished yet, but I’d have to guess I’ve been on roughly 100+ DC10s in my life, and I have to say the DC-10 has the best jumpseat with a full window (interned at United Airlines in the early 90s, unpaid, but unlimited OMC passes).

  2. When taking off from SEA last time there was a FedEx DC-10 in front of an AA MD-80. It felt like time travel and made me smile. Thank goodness for FedEx for keeping the DC-10 alive in the US!


  3. Love the DC10, especially the big windows. Favourite was Northwest Orient’s 2x4x2 with loads of legroom & no overhead bins in the centre. Amazing feeling of space.

  4. DC-10: Cool. L-1011: Amazing.

    Lockheed really pulled out the stops when they built that airplane, and it would perform when asked.

    That being said: happy birthday DC-10. You’ve taken more than your fair share of hard knocks over the years.

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