American Airlines is retiring the MD-80 after 36 years - Photo: Eddie Maloney


DALLAS – It’s a sad day today in the U.S. for many aviation enthusiasts and pilots who flew with the beautiful McDonnell Douglas MD-80, also known as ‘Mad Dog’ or ‘Super 80.’ American Airlines (AA) is saying goodbye to the iconic MD-80 after 36-years of service. Flight AA80 from Dallas Fort Worth to Chicago O’Hare will be American’s last commercial flight ever with the old Mad Dog.

The aircraft that is flying the last AA MD-80 flight to Chicago was the last manufactured MD-80 which came from the assembly line. It was once one of the 260 aircraft of this type of American Airlines. After AA merged with TWA in 2001, the MD-80 fleet would even increase to a total of 363.

Last ride into the desert

After the flight from Fort Worth to Chicago, the Mad Dog will make its last flight, to the desert graveyard of Roswell in New Mexico. American Airlines will fly the last 24 of its MD-80 jets to the airplane graveyard in Roswell and 2 MD-80s will be donated to flight-training schools.

The Mad Dog sitting in the hot Texas sun at DFW. Photo: Bill Abbott on flickr

Last emotional flight

American Airlines pilot Julio Gomez said to TIME that he just can’t bring himself to make that final flight with his beloved aircraft into the New Mexico desert.

The 52-year-old pilot has flown the MD-80 for his entire 20-year career at the airline company.

“I just cannot take that airplane to its grave,” Gomez said of the iconic jets’ retirement flights on Wednesday. “It’s just too heartbreaking.” Instead, the veteran pilot made his final flight with the Mad Dog late Tuesday.

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WFAA’s report of the Mad Dog’s last ride. Video: WFAA on YouTube

End of an Era

The past years airlines in the U.S. have already said goodbye to old and iconic airplanes like the 747 and the MD-11. Now the time has come to say goodbye to this beautiful workhorse, the MD-80.

This American retirement marks the end of an era of old and expensive planes, to make way for new high tech planes like the newer Boeing 737s and aircraft from the Airbus A320 family, with fuel-efficient engines to take over the MD-80 flights for the next decades to come.

The MD-80 is a plane that you will either love or hate as a passenger. The pilots who flew it loved the Mad Dog. It’s an old plane that took some pilot skills to fly in the old fashioned way. The Mad Dog is a classic, a unique and nostalgic plane with its characteristic T-tail, aluminum polished fuselage, wings and 2 engines in the back below the tail.

She’s old and without any entertainment on board not a very comfortable and pretty outdated and loud plane. Especially sitting in the back of the plane – near the loud engines – makes a ride on the MD-80 not a very joyful one. Although many passengers learned to appreciate the Mad Dog.

To many avgeeks in the U.S. this is a bittersweet end to an incredible era of aviation. The aircraft has proven to be a safe and more than reliable plane that carried many millions of people throughout the years on a loud, but unforgettable ride across America.

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Join Andy Luten from Andy’s Travel Blog on Youtube on a nostalgic tour to the American Airlines MD-80 farewell.


(Head photo: Eddie Maloney (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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