Est. US$ Cost:
2 x 16,000 lbs. ea.
Prior to the DC-9, produced by Douglas, airports with runways that could only accommodate propeller planes, and short distance commutes between cities, were not available for jet-speed travel. The DC-9 made 500 mph flight over shorter distances practical. The aircraft were in production for some seventeen years, beginning in 1965.
The DC-9 was produced in five different series of increasing larger size, range, and payload. There were even variants within the series to accommodate the needs of various airlines. The earliest series typically had 90 seats with the final, largest series, having a maximum of 139 seats. Cargo capacity also increased accordingly.
The DC-9 had its engines mounted in the rear of the fuselage, leaving the wing clear of drag producing elements.
The position of the engines produced more ground clearance than traditional jet designs and kept debris from being sucked into the inlets.
The DC-9 made cargo handling easy due to its cargo compartment placed at a level that could accommodate manual loading.
Passengers enjoyed large windows and a well-lit cabin, with a spacious seating arrangement of three plus two seats across. The overhead luggage bins were large, and were enclosed.
In addition to being used by airlines, DC-9 aircraft were used by the U.S.A.F., the U.S. Navy, the U.S.M.C., and NASA.
The DC-9 was truly a workhorse among airliners, with a fleet average of more than 3,000 flights of over 300 minutes each per day.
Possibly the most famous DC-9 was Playboy Hugh Hefner's private executive jet called the "Big Bunny." It was used as his personal jet transport from February of 1969 through June of 1976.
It had about a 15 foot longer fuselage and a three foot longer wingspan than its predecessors. Its leading edge slats spanned the entire wing, allowing for better handling at lower speeds. Overall weight of the aircraft was increased by 5,000 lbs.
The DC-9 interior was modified to include Hefner's private quarters with its own king size water bed. The quarters could be accessed through the aircraft's rear stairway. Also included was a bar, dance floor, lounge, sunken soaking tub, and shower.
The aircraft was eventually purchased by Venezuela Airlines, painted in its livery colors, and converted to a passenger jet. Later it was sold to Aeromexico. They flew the aircraft until 2004.
A total of 976 DC-9 aircraft of all types were produced.
The fuselage of Heffner's DC-9, now in Aeromexico colors, is on display in Mexico.