View Full Version : OKC NBA Team to fly Northwest charters

08-08-2008, 07:56 AM
OKC NBA team to fly Northwest Airlines charter jets
Journal Record
August 8, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY – The basketball team formerly known as the SuperSonics will fly in and out of Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport via specially redesigned Northwest Airlines charter jets for the upcoming season, officials confirmed Thursday.

Earlier this year Northwest secured the contract to fly several of the professional league’s teams. Dan Mahoney, spokesman for the as-yet-unnamed Oklahoma City franchise, said Northwest’s charter airline service probably will handle the regular travel arrangements for the Oklahoma City players as well.

Northwest spokesman Vin Parker confirmed that airline attendants are already jockeying to serve on those flights. Preparations before takeoff usually involve a large food spread and play-by-play videos of previous games – “It’s a really fun thing, and I wish I could go on them,” he said.

Charter airline Champion Air previously held the NBA contract, but went out of business at the end of May. Champion had fit six of its planes with 59 first-class seats to better accommodate the basketball players and coaching staff. According to the NBA’s 2007-08 internal survey, the average player is 6-foot-7 and weighs 221 pounds.“Our tech ops team has completed the first aircraft modification for planes doing VIP NBA charters,” Parker said Thursday. “It’s a reconfigured A319 with 54 VIP seats, and we have six more planes being converted that will be done before the start of the NBA season.”

The standard Airbus A319 is usually configured with about 112 coach seats and a dozen first-class seats.

Oklahoma businessman Clay Bennett and his partners in Professional Basketball Club LLC bought the Sonics last year and finalized the team’s move to Oklahoma City in July after a lengthy, litigious conflict with parties who wanted to keep the Sonics in Seattle. But the team had to leave its name and colors behind; its new name has not yet been announced. The relocated franchise will tip off its inaugural season Oct. 29 against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Ford Center downtown. The team’s preseason schedule is expected to be announced next week.

Doug Loudenback
08-08-2008, 09:34 AM
That's interesting ... I guess that I supposed that teams owned their own plane like George Shinn did with his 747 which was put on display in summer 2006, Fan Appreciation Day, here ...

Maybe we (me) didn't give old George enough credit! :)

08-08-2008, 09:42 AM
I think about half the teams have their own planes. I know someone who knew one of the Champion stewardesses, and apparently the Lakers use a charter. She talked about which players they all liked and which they didn't, but I've long since forgotten any of her interesting comments.

08-08-2008, 09:48 AM
Thats not a 747..... someone else might know for sure but I think it is a MD-80 or varient of. Much cheaper than a double decker. It is probably much less of a headache for chartering than paying for upkeep/pilot/crew on a personally owned plane.

08-08-2008, 10:15 AM
That's not a 747..... someone else might know for sure but I think it is a MD-80 or varient of. Much cheaper than a double decker. It is probably much less of a headache for chartering than paying for upkeep/pilot/crew on a personally owned plane.

Nah, it looks like some guy holding down a tripod...;)

08-08-2008, 10:18 AM
Thanks for the pictures Doug. That brought up some very good memories. I remember the flight attendants telling us how polite the Hornet players were.
I miss seeing Air Hugo sitting at the airport. I guess this means we won't have an Air Thunder to go through at a fan appreciation picnic.

08-09-2008, 10:38 PM
Thats not a 747..... someone else might know for sure but I think it is a MD-80 or varient of. Much cheaper than a double decker. It is probably much less of a headache for chartering than paying for upkeep/pilot/crew on a personally owned plane.

It's a 727.

747 is a jumbo-jet with an upper floor.

The 727 is the only tri-jet built by Boeing. The other two popular american tri-jets, McDonnell Douglas DC-10/MD-11 and Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, were competitors (hence answers) to the 747 jumbo-jet. All of these airliners have sense no longer been produced, primarily due to rising fuel costs of having 3 engines.

The DC-10/MD-11 fleet has mostly been converted into freighters and used by Fed Ex. The Trijet got a lot of bad press due to some significant air crashes - but in fact it was mostly due to bad maintenance practices (of American airlines in Tulsa, in particular). This caused the callapse of what otherwise was the most popular airplane (DC-10/MD-11, remember all of the aviation/airline magazines of the past, they had a pic of a trijet in most cases) and allowed Boeing to buy McDonnell Douglas, thereby putting an end to MD-11 production (I joined Boeing in 1998, right prior to the McDonnell Douglas takeover).

It's too bad, because otherwise the MD-11 in particular is a great jet and would be a wonderful competitor to the 777 and 747.

But, yeah - back to subject, the picture is a 727, single-aisle aircraft. It's noteworthy because it can take off from just about any airport regardless of runway length, due to its great thrust to weight ratio and its' revolutionary wing design (which provided much improved lift when the flaps were extended).

You used to see LOTS and I mean LOTS of airlines flying 727's, it was the most popular airliner until the later 1980's when 737's took over. Like I said, the 727's demise was its operating costs (3 jets and 3 pilots/senior officers).

08-09-2008, 10:39 PM
Maybe Bennett could buy a new 787 aircraft when we/Boeing finally get them air-worthy.

Doug Loudenback
08-10-2008, 08:23 AM
Thanks for correcting my carlessness ... the Hornet's plane was obviously not a 747.

08-11-2008, 10:22 PM
MD 11's are still in heavy use by KLM and Martinair, both dutch carriers. Martinair uses them for both pax and freight operations (mostly freight) and KLM still has them, though they'll all eventually be replaced with Airbus 330s and 777s.The MD 11 is actually a completely new airplane that was designed to replace the DC 10, but it too had some roblems, most notably center-of-gravity problems that made it difficult to land under certain conditions. The plane's cargo carrying capabilities though make it one of the most popular cargo planes to date.

It was the DC 10 which got a lot of bad press, but it wasn't all AA 191, (although it was a significant factor). There were some incidents in Europe and one in Mexico as well, which had nothing to do with the plane itself but we can always rely on the media to spin things out of context.

And yeah, the Northwest aircraft will be re-configured, not re-designed, BIG difference between the two.

To clarify though, the 747's upper deck only extends about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the way back before tapering off, depending on what variant you look at.

Anyway, on the topic, should be nice to see NW Airbus 319s at OKC, although they'll likely not be seen on regular passenger flights anytime soon here.

08-12-2008, 04:56 AM
I was speaking mainly of the US market, I am aware of KLM (they fly into Vancouver YVR) and Martinair (also does).

I posted in the other thread, but United is flying 757's into OKC (in addition to A319 and A320s). OU MAN, you need to go check it out. See the WRWA losing flights thread (I posted the flight info there).

08-12-2008, 09:03 AM
^Ahh ok, I understand.

Yeah, UAL had 75s for the summer season only back in '03 or '04. Nice to see them back for a short while. Although pretty surprising considering the situation UAL is in and the oil prices and such. Even AUS, which used to get 757 service on a regular basis isn't getting any right now.

11-02-2008, 06:14 PM
Could it be this Northwest 747 that's been sitting over at the airport? I watched this thing come in the other day - it makes every thing else look pretty small, it even makes the airport look small. Pretty cool seeing a 747 come in to OKC. :)

I'd like to know how much it costs to lease that - if it is indeed the Thunder's plane.

03-04-2009, 02:31 PM
i was a flight attendant on the hornets 727 for four years. the plane was owned previously by the seattle sonics - hence the interior colors of dark green and burgandy. we had 3 pilots and 3 flight attendants and 36 seats on the airplane. the coaches sat in the front cabin, the players in the middle where there were 14 single seats, 7 on each side, one in front of the other and the rear cabin was for the press, radio and tv - like gerry v. and bob licht. the players seats swivel 360 degrees and lay totally out, like a bed. the players were the best - the sweetest bunch of kids and the plane was sweet. that was truly my dream job - too bad they grounded the plane. to my knowledge, it has not sold yet... but it was a beauty...