American Sends Long-Time Super 80 Workhorse to the New Mexico Desert

One of the AA80 captains hangs a celebratory flag in Chicago (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

American Airlines officially laid the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 to rest on Wednesday after 36 years of service with the airline. Today, 26 Super 80s, as the airline marketed them as, still in American Airlines’ polished aluminum liveries, embarked on their final flight to Roswell, New Mexico where they will enjoy their long days in the sun, ending an era for the airline.

AA80, operated by N984TW, acted as the final revenue flight for the chrome-plated MD-80s, flying from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Full of AvGeeks from all walks of life, from industry professionals to amateurs, the celebration for the Mad Dog was emotional for many. The aircraft was the last aircraft that rolled off the Long Beach McDonnell Douglas plant in 1999 and delivered to Trans World Airlines, later transferred to American in 2001.

An American Airlines MD-80 prepares for departure from Chicago O’Hare to Roswell, N.M. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

“We all love it, that’s why I have been on it since 1987,” said Captain Clint Beedle. “We appreciate the effort that everyone made today to be on this special flight, I know a lot of you came from a great distance probably to be on this flight.”

American hosted celebrations for its aircraft in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, and Roswell while airports all over the nation held their own #Super80Sendoffs with cake, balloons and water salutes. While the MD-80 flying for American was once a staple at many of the country’s airports, the iconic t-tailed bird has slowly been replaced by American’s newer Boeing 737-800 and even larger regional jets such as the Embraer E175. 

American’s VP of Network Planning Vasu Raja etches his mark on the MD-80 before it heads to retirement (Photo: Dylan Oakes)

Passengers on AA80 wrote their goodbyes and signed their names on the interior of N984TW and moved their festivities to the gate area to continue the party. In the days leading up to the event, travelers on American MD-80 flights were given the opportunity to write goodbye cards to the retiring aircraft. 

While not all had the opportunity to travel on AA80, the past few weeks had been filled with travelers reminiscing about their experiences on the aircraft, known for its unique interior configuration. Last year, AirlineGeeks’ Tom Pallini flew all the way from New York to Dallas and back via Charlotte and New Orleans to catch one last ride on the aircraft before its retirement. 

After an hour of final festivities at O’Hare Airport, N984TW was ferried to Roswell International Air Center to join many of its colleagues in their new retirement home. Though while most did end up in Roswell, a few were taken elsewhere. While their flying days are over, two aircraft were sent to Tulsa, Okla. where they are being donated to an unannounced cause. A third bird will be left at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport for airport training.

The view from AA80 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

The MD-80’s tenure in the U.S. is not over yet as Delta Air Lines continues to fly the aircraft to destinations throughout the country. The ‘Super 80,’ however, will no longer grace American skies.

The MD-80 flight deck. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

From all of us at AirlineGeeks, goodbye, Super 80. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement. 

Matthew Garcia

Matthew Garcia became interested in aviation at the age of 12 when he installed Microsoft Flight Simulator X on his computer. He was instantly "bitten by the bug" and has been in love with aviation ever since. Matthew took his first introductory flight in 2013 and began normal flight training in February of 2015. Over the years, Matthew's love and knowledge for aviation has grown tremendously, mainly due to FSX. Garcia flies highly advanced aircraft in a professional manner on a highly complex virtual air traffic network simulating real world flying. In 2016 Matthew achieved his private pilot certificate from the FAA. Now he studies journalism at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Matthew Garcia