The world's only Boeing 307 Stratoliner will roll out in Seattle on 23 June after a seven-year restoration by volunteer past and present Boeing workers. Entering service in 1940, the Stratoliner was the world's first pressurised airliner, able to cruise above the weather at 20,000ft. It carried 33 passengers and five crewmembers, had space for overnight berths, and was the first land-based aircraft to have a flight engineer as a member of the flightcrew.

The restored aircraft will look exactly as it did when, christened "Clipper Flying Cloud." It was first delivered to Pan Am 61 years ago. It will be equipped with original Pan Am Stratoliner radios and compasses bought from former Pan Am employees through Internet auction sites.

The restoration includes many parts made using original drawings archived by Boeing. It also features fabrics with designs, patterns and colours based on Boeing-archived samples and fragments found inside the aircraft when it was discovered at the Pima County Aviation Museum in Arizona.

The Stratoliner was in poor condition after many years of sitting outside in the baking desert sun. Emergency restoration was carried out at Pima County so that the aircraft could fly back to Seattle for the makeover just completed.

The aircraft will be a centrepiece of the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Centre, companion facility to the new Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum under construction at Washington Dulles Airport.

The museums are due to open on 17 December 2003, the centenary of the Wright Brothers' historic flight. The Stratoliner made its first flight in 1938.

Source: Flight Daily News