The first Boeing 767 for Delta was a special aircraft for the airline. In fact, Delta’s employees bought the aircraft for Delta as a gesture of appreciation. When the first Boeing 767 was delivered in 1982, Delta faced some tough times. However, their employees bound together and sought to keep Delta flying for years to come.
The Delta Flight Museum website has a page dedicated to the Boeing 767. The original effort involved much tenacity and ambition from three Delta flight attendants. At the end of their fundraising drive, Delta’s employees raised $30 million to finance the new aircraft.
Finally, on December 15th, 1982, 7,000 employees gathered at the celebration to christen Ship 102. The Boeing 767-200 was named “The Spirit of Delta”, and came at a time of financial headwinds for the carrier.
For the first time in 35 years, Delta had posted a net loss. At the time, the airline industry was struggling due to a weak economy and high fuel prices. Beyond that, airline deregulation created a competitive market. Delta’s employees, however, were unwilling to let the airline fail.
At the end of Ship 102’s life, the aircraft had seen many phases of Delta. The aircraft was painted in special liveries that included a celebration of the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta. In addition, in 2004, the Spirit of Delta flew in 75th Anniversary livery. This aircraft was the natural choice to receive the special livery. At the end of its in-service life, the time came for retirement. In February, 2006, the Spirit of Delta left service after 70,697 hours in the air. This comprised 34,389 trip cycles.
After a farewell tour, the Spirit of Delta was ready to receive a new life as a showpiece at Delta’s museum.