Aviation News

April 3, 2014

Donated FedEx Boeing 727 Arrives In Ft. Lauderdale

FedEx Corporation operated the last flight of the venerable workhouse of the skies, the Boeing 727-200 Freighter, on June 21, 2013. The last flight was operated by tail number N481FE from Indianapolis, IN (the maintenance base for the Boeing 727-200 fleet) to the FedEx SuperHub in Memphis, TN. When it landed, it marked the end of 35 years of service for the Boeing 727-200 in the FedEx fleet.

FedEx-04The Boeing 727 was introduced into the FedEx fleet on January 14, 1979 when they acquired their first of the type, a -100 model, from United Airlines. With the delivery of their first mid-size freighter aircraft, FedEx was able to immediately increase their operating efficiency through larger payload capabilities, and were also able to access a lot more domestic markets. Prior to the arrival of the first 727, FedEx only had small Dassault Falcon 20 cargo aircraft. All early acquisitions of the model were from other carriers until new aircraft were purchased from Boeing. The last Boeing 727-200 left the assembly line in 1984 and was delivered to FedEx. At one point, FedEx was the largest Boeing 727 operator in the world with 170 aircraft in the fleet.


The arriving 727 receives the traditional water cannon salute.

As happens with all aircraft models eventually, newer and more efficient aircraft are designed, produced, and incorporated into airline fleets. While it took a while, FedEx was no different than any other large airline. In 2007, FedEx began retiring its Boeing 727-200 fleet, replacing them with Boeing 757-200s. In a similar manner, they have also begun to phase out the McDonnell-Douglas MD10/DC10 fleet in favor of newer and more efficient Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft.

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, “Stephanie”, a Boeing 727-247/ADV bearing the tail number N235FE departed a dreary Newark Liberty International Airport airport for its final destination of Fort Lauderdale. The aircraft was originally delivered to Western Airlines in March of 1977 as the 1254th 727 built. The trijet flew passengers for both Western and its successor, Delta Air Lines, until 1996 when it was sold to FedEx and converted to carry freight. At the controls for the final flight were Captain Vincent La Forgia, First Officer John Baines and Second Officer Chris Higgins. According to First Officer Baines, it was a perfect day for flying and Fort Lauderdale did not disappoint with perfect weather for the arrival. The first approach to runway 10L turned out to be a low-level 100’ pass over the runway before circling back around to land. After taxiing to the FedEx facility, the aircraft was met by a water cannon salute provided by the Broward County Fire Department.


From left to right: Beth Rush (Fedex), First Officer John Baines, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief, David Sutton (Fedex), Captain Vincent La Forgia, Second Officer Chris Higgins, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca

Dignitaries from Broward County that were on hand for the arrival included Mayor Barbara Sharief, representatives from the Aviation Department including Deputy Director Doug Webster, and members of Broward Country Law Enforcement and Fire Departments. In addition several FedEx employees were on hand, including David Sutton, Managing Director, FedEx Express Aircraft Acquisitions & Sales and Beth Rush, Aircraft Acquisitions & Sales who also runs the Donations Program.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief welcomed the aircraft to Fort Lauderdale and presented a proclamation from the Broward County Commission to David Sutton of FedEx. She noted, “We are very thankful for this most generous donation from FedEx. The aircraft will serve as a useful training tool for firefighters and as such assist in the protection of residents and visitors.”


Handover of the aircraft (and a model) to Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief by David Sutton from FedEx.

David Sutton of FedEx, in his hand over of the aircraft noted, “This aircraft donation, the 79th in FedEx history, symbolizes the community spirit of FedEx Express and its employees. That spirit is one of sharing and giving back where we can in all the communities – large and small – where we live and work”. He added, “So whether it’s an important package, or in this case an aircraft, we delivered to a community we call home. We are honored to be able to help”. With that, Mr. Sutton presented the Mayor with a model of the Boeing 727 to signify the official handover.

The aircraft will now complete several maintenance tasks to prepare it for it’s final resting area and then will be moved over to the north western side of the airport where is will be used for fire-fighting training as well as tactical response training by law enforcement agencies.


David Sutton showing the picture (before and after) of Stephanie after whom N235FE is named. Stephanie is the daughter of FedEx courier Dennis Martell of Ballmawr, NJ.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief presents proclamation to David Sutton and Beth Rush from FedEx

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief presents proclamation to David Sutton and Beth Rush from FedEx


Mark Lawrence, Producer, is a South Florida-based aviation fanatic that has been around the industry since he was a small boy. As well as being an avid photographer, he also runs his own blog that can be found at http://amateuravphoto.blogspot.com.

All images courtesy of Mark Lawrence.

About the Author

Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence is a NYCAviation staff member and a south Florida-based aviation fanatic. He has been around the industry since he was a small boy. Mark can be reached at [email protected]



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  • capnaux

    A great piece detailing the last hurrah of a true workhorse and icon of the skies!

    • Mark Lawrence

      Thank you Cap’n Aux! It was wonderful to be able to share the adventure!

      • Vincent La Forgia

        Hi Mark, it was a pleasure meeting you that day. Thank you for the great article and wonderful pictures. It was an honor to be able to fly the final flight of a truly wonderful aircraft. Although she sat untouched, but wonderfully preserved, through the harsh New Jersey winter, she roared to life without a problem and flew flawlessly. I was thrilled to be allowed to fly 100′ above the deck to show off her graceful lines and glad to get the soft touchdown she deserved for her final landing. Although sad to see them fly for the last time, all 10 of the final deliveries Fed Ex has asked me to perform the aircraft have been perfect, a true testament to the great care they receive throughout their lives at Fed Ex. Regards, Capt. Vincent La Forgia.