October 7, 2021
Aviation International News Senior Editor Curt Epstein spoke to Founder and Chairman Jerry King about a favorite subject: a Boeing 737-200 that he worked on as a green completion from the factory 40 years ago. When it rolled into the King facility for some work recently, King was over the moon to be reunited with the historic aircraft – and was a little more than nostalgic.
Had he ever wondered what had happened to the aircraft? He tells Epstein: “It’s like did I ever decide to look up my high school sweetheart? Not really, but I have wondered where she was.”
The aircraft never operated as an airliner, making it the world’s lowest-time Boeing 737-200. It was modified for VIP service and has served in this role for almost 40 years. Entrepreneur Harvey Patrick piloted the plane when it was delivered new from Boeing in December 1981 to be modified for VIP operation. Patrick founded PATS Aircraft Systems in 1977 (becoming ALOFT AeroArchitects in 2015) and designed the PATS auxiliary fuel tanks for Boeing 737 BBJ aircraft. Four decades ago the industry was just beginning to transition purpose-built airliners designed to transport hundreds of passengers into flying offices for heads of state and titans of industry with large entourages. Patrick helped extend the range of these aircraft for their new missions.
As president and co-owner of Associated Air Center back in the 1980s, Jerry King oversaw a number of aircraft’s completion and entry into service. This Boeing 737-200 especially stood out. And this past summer, that same aircraft arrived at the King Aerospace Ardmore facility for maintenance and paint (personalized with a beautiful, dark blue and logo on the tail).
The aircraft’s current chief pilot/aviation manager Eduardo Letti has been with the meticulously maintained plane for the past 16 years. Over that time he has worked for three different owners. The new Houston-based owner, Ali Davoudi, made Letti’s coming along with the aircraft part of the deal when he bought the plane this past January.
The Boeing 737-200 is an extended-fuselage, narrow-body, short-range aircraft renown for reliability – and longevity. As a twinjet, it was nicknamed “Baby Boeing.” Its two-person flight deck became standard among air carriers. By 1987, the 737 was the most ordered aircraft in commercial history. The last Boeing 737-200 delivered in 1988.