This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Retired commercial airplanes often have nowhere to go but the desert, to be scrapped for their metal or parts. However, a half-dozen retired Boeing 737-300s have found a new lease on life.

A Southwest Airlines 737-300. Photo by Paul Thompson.

The Coulson Group has purchased six 737s formerly flown by Southwest Airlines, to be used as firefighting jets. This is the first time 737s have been used for this purpose. The planes will be able to dump 4,000 gallons of fire retardant on each run, and carry up to 63 passengers, including ground firefighting crews and rescue teams who will work in the hot zones.

Coulson currently flies four Lockheed C-130s and some Sikorski S-61 helicopters. Coulson CEO Wayne Coulson told the Puget Sound Business Journal that he seized the opportunity to buy Southwest’s gently used jets when he heard the airline was retiring the planes. C-130s are also very hard to come by, and there were none for sale when Coulson inked the 737 deal. Plus, the 737s were available for a much cheaper price than C-130s. In addition to firefighting, the company also works in helicopter logging, power-line construction, airliner passenger transport and many other industrial heavy-lift operations.

Boeing produced 1,113 of the 737-300 from 1984 to 1999. Southwest had up to 195 in its fleet, years ago, but only 75 remain. All of the remaining planes will be retired by September 30 of this year, to make room for the new 737 MAX, which Southwest will begin flying on October 1. The first plane to be converted for Coulson will be N617SW, which was built in October 1995, followed by N608SW, which was built in July 1995.

Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher chats with General Chuck Yeager at the delivery of Southwest
Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher chatting with General Chuck Yeager at the delivery of Southwest’s first 737-300 in 1984. Photo by Ken Thompson.

The 737 holds the title of the world’s most-produced commercial jet, having been in service for 50 years, starting with Lufthansa. Since that time, Airbus has come along to challenge Boeing with its A320 series of aircraft, holding a steady second place in the market. More recently, other competitors have come from China’s COMAC C919, and Russia’s Irkut MC-21.

Featured image courtesy of the author, Paul Thompson.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.