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ATLANTA, GEORGIA, U.S. - Delta Air Lines' MD-88s and MD-90s said goodbye to the skies. The planes made their last scheduled revenue flights on June 2, as the airline officially retires its McDonell Douglas jets dubbed Mad Dog.
The aircraft joined several other MD-88s and MD-90s as they flew to Blytheville, Ark., where they will be officially retired from the fleet.
Last month Delta announced its plans to retire the MD-88 and MD-90 fleet earlier than previously planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on travel demand. Delta has been able to react quickly to the COVID-19 crisis by parking aircraft and considering early retirements of older, less efficient airplanes. Delta continues to evaluate its broader fleet plan and will consider additional aircraft retirements to focus on a modern, simpler fleet going forward.

In normal times, special flights like Delta Air Lines' retirement of the last McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft flying scheduled passenger service in North America are cause for celebration. With national crises raging, these are anything but normal times. Yet against this tragic backdrop, the final flight on Tuesday was historic, joyous, and completely surreal.
Airline enthusiasts and employees flew in from around the country to be a part of this event, and I was lucky enough to be on board. After 33 years as the backbone of Delta's domestic fleet, and after nearly four decades plying the world's skies, the once-ubiquitous MD-88 aircraft known as the "Mad Dog" vanished from scheduled airline service Tuesday, marking the end of an era for the aircraft not just in the United States, but in most of the world.
This was the last scheduled passenger flight in America of any McDonnell Douglas designed and produced passenger aircraft in America.
The significance of the MD-80 to the Atlanta-based carrier can't be overstated. Though Delta wasn't the first airline to fly the MD-80, the airline was the launch customer for the Mad Dog's predecessor, the DC-9, back in 1965.

Delta operated 120 examples of the MD-80 at its peak (out of 1,191 built). Delta's MD-80s were specially updated and rebranded as the MD-88. This beloved workhorse entered service on April 1, 1987, flying to just about every city in Delta's North American network with 900 flights per day.
The MD-80s are affectionately known as Mad Dogs because they take off like rocket ships and unlike more modern automated aircraft, they require pilots' full attention to fly and land. At their height, they represented 50% of all Delta departures and arrivals at the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.

Over 33 years, the fleet flew 750 million passengers, achieving 12 million hours in the air. On the last full day of operations, only 14 MD-88s and two of its MD-90 sisterships were operating from the airline's Atlanta base.

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