Ramp Find: 1974 L1011 Flying Hospital


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Some of you like seeing things other than cars and some of you want only want things with wheels. Well, how about an airliner? It has wheels, is coming back to life after sitting for 15 years and has an interesting history. There is only one other L1011 flying of the 250 built (the other is used to launch rockets). This L1011 is one of two specially built aircraft with an airstair on the lower level so passengers can enter the aircraft directly from ground level. It served with Delta Airlines as Ship 728, The Delta Belle, before being retired in the 1990s. In 1995 it was converted into the largest flying hospital ever built, complete with operating suite, pre/post operative area, classroom and more. So, what’s next for this grand old bird?

in line

From 1996 until 2001 it provided medical services to people around the world.

startup copy

TriStar History and Preservation of Kansas City is the new owner and they will be ferrying the airplane to Kansas City to be used in its educational programs. How do you start an airliner after it’s sat for 15 years? Here’s a video.

flying 2

Unlike the others, this L1011 was saved twice from the boneyard and being scrapped. It will be repainted in TWA livery and maintained in flying condition, though it will not be flown regularly. You can read more about the program on The Kansas City Star’s website. This old airliner will help spark an interest in aviation, engineering, science and technology in future generations of kids.

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  1. angliagt

    AwwwwwMannnn – and I was going to bid on it.
    I thought this was about vehicles for sale.

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  2. MikeG

    It’s incredible to think of the good works have taken place on this old bird. Nice to see it will live on.

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  3. Dan h

    One of my all time favorite jet-liners. If your lucky enough to see one fly overhead at night, you’ll notice 3 lights in the shape of a pyamid hence the name TriStar. I think TriStar is also reference to the 3 Rollsroyce engines it had.

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  4. Paul R.

    Lockheed L-1011.
    One of the finest airliners made.

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  5. Barry T

    By Golly. I like it but I think I might have a little problem finding garage space for this bird.

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  6. Jeff V.

    Pratt & Whitney engines?

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    • Paul R.

      Rolls Royce.

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  7. piper62j

    An L1011 crashed into the Patomac River years ago during a snow storm.. Another crashed when the fanjet blades on the third engine severed the hydraulic lines up in the tail section to the rudder and elevators.. Loss of control brought it to the ground..
    If memory serves me.
    Great design and the third engine on the tail made it special.. This was one of my favorite aircraft..
    Great find on a great aircraft.

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    • Richard Grod

      That was a DC-10 you’re talking about.

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    • Ed P

      As I remember, a L1011 flew into the Everglades and crashed. The autopilot had been disengaged and the crew did not notice the slow descent into the ground until to late. Not a problem with the plane, just human error.

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    • nessy

      That was not an L1011 in the river. It happened in Janurary of 82. It was an Air Florida 737, a much smaller plane. An L1011 would have had enough power even in those conditions to pull over that bridge. The Everglades was an L1011 in December of 72, the first one to go down due to the pilots goof up

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      • pperros

        My carpool had crossed the bridge that the Air Florida 737 ended up clipping less than an hour before it happened. Heavy snow, and the plane had sat too long after de-icing, so more snow and ice built up on the wings, severely compromising lift. Coincidentally, the D.C. Metro system suffered its first fatality that day too. Strange, sad day.

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  8. Kevin Harper

    These were the work horse for flying between LA and Hawaii when I lived out there. I remember it as having more lateral room than a contemporary boeing.
    Having said that these nearly bankrupted lockheed, between the problems with Rolls-Royce and the planes having a harmonic drumming in the rear of the aircraft. These caused extreme financial distress to the manufacturer and due to this lockheed has not built any commercial aircraft since. Which is a shame because they built some great ones in the past.

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  9. piper62j

    Hey Kevin.. You’re right about Lockheed.. Here are the aircraft the company is famous for.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lockheed_aircraft

    Also, according to a new release, the company is in the process of designing a Mach 7 aircraft.. That’s all I know..

    Here’s another one of my favorites..

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    • Kevin Harper

      Yes the infamous mach 7 aircraft.
      OK a story, I was a skunk for lockheed and worked mostly on yf22, x-33, x-35 (JSF) and darkstar.
      Anyway there was always rumour of this supersonic plane that we were working on that went somewhere between mach 5 to mach 10. The project was supposedly called aurora and it was all the rage among the aviation nuts. Well practical jokes were common at the skunkworks and one of my good friends had a dozen coffee cups printed up with a fancy aircraft logo and Aurora project written on it. He put them on our desk to find on an early Monday morning and when we came in we all had a good laugh.
      That would have probably been it, but several months later a picture showed up in one of the aircraft enthusiasts magazines of one of Pete’s coffee cups, as “proof” of the projects existance, and the Internet exploded with rumors.
      Now I could try to explain that between satellites, drones, guided rockets, stealth technology ect there is no real reason for a plane doing mach 5+, but i realize the story is just more interesting.

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      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Were you really a skunk for Lockheed, or were you just a skunk????? Inquiring minds want to know….lol

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    • Van

      Saw a T-33 at an air show. With the fuel tanks at the end of the wings it looked great doing airobatics

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  10. Matt Tritt

    Nice Shooting Star! These were the U.S. main fighter, along with the Sabre Jet when I was a wee lad. Interestingly enough, these and the early MIGs were developed from the WWII German jet aircraft program. It’s pretty mind blowing just how much aircraft and rocket technologies were the result of Germany’s desperate attempts to stem the tides. Nothing like the prospect of anihilation to bring out the technological genius in humans.

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    • Ed P

      Desperation is the mother of inventions.

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  11. VetteDude

    I could be wrong, but, if Germany had not invaded Russia, and if they had another year to continuing fighting, they would have had too many military advances – WWII might have ended differently.
    (And, of course if my aunt had balls she would be my uncle!)

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  12. Ed P

    Hitler seriously underestimated the Russian’s determination to defend their homeland. After the Russian’s got their act together, they took their revenge. Many German soldiers wanted to surrender to the Americans or British to avoid capture by the Russian’s.

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  13. Rob S

    Aaahhh the old tri star. They called it the whisper liner. Better than the DC 10 at the time. If Pratt and witney had delivered the engines to Lockheed before McDonnell Douglas got theirs the L1011 would have been more successful than the 10. These are wings of beauty. Glad this one is surviving. And thanks to those who care for it.

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  14. Wildfire

    I believe it was a L-1011 that crashed at D/FW Airport while lading in a thunderstorm as well I worked that crash and Careflite dispatch had to declare the Metroplex disaster plan as it happened just after 5 pm on a Friday night And all landlines to the airport where down it took ground Ambulances up to 1.5 hours to get to the scene! it was Very disturbing !! I saw 20 year rescue personnel lose it we transported 2 to the Parkland Hospital Burn unit
    One of our pilots (who flew Huey’s in Nam. said it was the worse scene he had ever personally seen
    This was the first ever Aircraft that ever crashed at the D/FW airport and extremely sad day ~until 9-11-2001

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    • nessy

      Wildfire, I guess you are talking about the August 85 landing crash of a Delta 1011. I remember that one. I think it was a flight 191 which was also the flight number of the American DC10 that lost it’s engine on takeoff from O Hare airport in May of 79. There were several other crashes over the years involving a flight 191 number. As of today, I do not think any airline uses a flight 191 anymore. Creepy…. Rob, only Eastern Airlines used the “Whisperliner” name on their 1011s. All other jets flown by Eastern said “Whisperjet”

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  15. Pierre Stievenart

    Many years ago, I was working for Lockheed as a PR consultant in Europe. At the Le Bourget (French) Air Show, I was a passenger on a demonstration flight with a Gulf Air (if i remember well) TriStar: it had a narow elevator between the cabin and the “downstairs” bar! It is possible I flown on this very Delta aircraft between Atlanta and London. A superb aircraft. I still remember the declicious steak served on board.
    Picture: the Golden Falcon at (British) Farnborough Air Show.

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