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NASA retires last U.S. DC-8 aircraft with final flyover in South Bay

Watch: NASA DC-8 perform low passes at Moffett Federal Airfield on final flight
Watch: NASA DC-8 perform low passes at Moffett Federal Airfield on final flight 02:40

A low-flying jet with decades of history was seen flying over the South Bay Wednesday on its final flight before retirement.

A specialized DC-8 used by NASA wrapped up 37 years of service with the space agency with a final flyover in San Jose and low passes over the runway at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View next to NASA's Ames Research Center.

The plane was on its final flight from Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County to Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, where it will be used to train future aircraft technicians at the college's Aircraft Maintenance Technology Program.  

A modified DC-8 from NASA flies over Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View on its last flight before retirement, May 15, 2024. KPIX

The McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 was first flown in 1958 and originally designed to be a military aerial refueling tanker, but once the Douglas Aircraft Company lost the military tanker contract to then-rival Boeing the jet project was marketed to civil operators. 

The company produced 556 DC-8 aircraft until 1972, and as of last year only five DC-8s remained in service by commercial carriers in Peru and the Republic of the Congo. In the US, DC-8s are no longer in commercial service.

NASA's DC-8-72 was refitted as a flying laboratory and has been used in meteorology, oceanography and other earth and space scientific research since 1986. The DC-8 is being replaced by a more capable and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-200ER, NASA said.

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