After a 33-year career, “Steven” retired Jan. 10 from Federal Express after spending 47,900 hours flying in the air and successfully landing 28,681 times.
Steven, a Boeing 727- 200F aircraft named after the child of a FedEx employee, will never fly in the clouds again. It will spend the rest of its days as a hands-on laboratory for California Baptist University’s aviation science program.
“That was the last flight forever for this aircraft,” said Dr. Daniel Prather, founding chair of the CBU Aviation Science Department, after it touched down at Riverside Municipal Airport. “It is now ground-based, but it is going to be a working laboratory. It will be used for ground purposes for our program and our students.”
The aircraft will be housed at the Riverside airport where it made its final taxi through a ceremonial arch of water, a symbolic gesture of respect for its successful decades of service.
Students will have the opportunity to power up the cockpit, work with the hydraulics, start the engine, operate the plane on the ground and see the inside of a freighter aircraft.
Prather said the aircraft will prove to be a key tool for future endeavors into other aviation programs that CBU may launch, such as aviation traffic control dispatch.
While other aviation programs use single-engine planes for training, CBU’s program will stand out with this Boeing 727-200F aircraft, said Prather.
The plane came to CBU as a part of FedEx’s donation program. While the company has had more than 300 requests for donations since starting the program, its gift to CBU marks the 60th donation of a plane to be used for educational purposes.
“We are honored to be able to help,” said David Sutton, managing director of Aircraft Acquisition and Sales for FedEx. “We are equally proud to provide a tool that will be an important part of (Prather’s) new technical training program at this marvelous school. It is my hope and the hope of FedEx that this aircraft provides a critical, hands-on training that is essential to the skill-set of the next generation of aircraft technicians.”
As part of arriving at its final home, Steven may also be receiving “Lance” as a new name to fully make the aircraft a part of CBU, said Dr. Mark Wyatt, vice president of marketing and communication.