The Heyday of Propeller Airliners(1941-1958)


At Your Service Activity

At Your Service

Where Does It Go?

Airplane bathroom waste has always gone into a storage tank in the airplane, which is pumped out after landing. If the tank gets full, there is an overflow valve that discharges extra waste out of the aircraft-during flight. The chemicals used to treat the waste turn it blue, and the waste freezes during its fall to earth-the infamous "blue ice."

Douglas DC-7

Douglas DC-7
Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Douglas DC-7
National Air and Space Museum Archives

The Douglas DC-7 was an advanced development of the DC-6B piston-engine airliner. It was introduced by American Airlines on its New York-Los Angeles route in November 1953 and was the first airliner to provide nonstop transcontinental service in both directions.

The fastest transport aircraft in service, the DC-7 cruised at 580 kilometers (360 miles) per hour. A total of 338 DC-7s of all types were purchased by 18 different airlines. Like other piston-engine airliners, it was made obsolete by the introduction of turbine-engine Boeing 707s and Douglas
DC-8s. Some DC-7s later served as cargo and charter planes.

This nose section is from American Airlines' Flagship Vermont, which carried about 130,000 passengers in its nearly 13,500 hours aloft.
Gift of American Airlines

Wingspan: 35.8 m (117 ft 6 in)
Length: 33.2 m (108 ft 11 in)
Height: 8.7 m (28 ft 7 in)
Weight, gross: 55,429 kg (122,200 lb)
Weight, empty: 30,076 kg (66,305 lb)
Top speed: 656 km/h (410 mph)
Engine: 4 Wright R-3350 Turbo Compound, 3,250 hp
Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Co., Santa Monica, Calif., 1956

View of Cockpit

View of Cabin

Interior of the DC-7

Explore the cockpit and forward cabin area of the DC-7 on display at the National Air and Space Museum. Visitors to the Museum can walk through the cabin. These QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas were created from photographs of the aircraft interior prior to installation of protective seat coverings and plexiglass over the cockpit and artifacts.

Download free QuickTime player