Aviation Week will celebrate its centenary next year. In preparation, the magazine has set up two special Web sites. One is headlined 'A Century of Aviation Week', and links to historic articles, advertisements and other entries over the years. The second is a blog, 'From The Archives', providing links to Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) copies of historic documents, articles, etc. from the magazine. Both are well worth bookmarking.
To illustrate how useful they are, I've just been reading an overview of the Boeing 737 after fifty years in production. Here's the initial 737-100 model, built for launch customer Lufthansa. Click the image for a much larger view.
As the overview points out:
To see how incredibly conservative [early] growth estimates were here’s a snapshot of key differences between the 737-100 (as outlined in 1965, two years before its roll out) and the 737-900ER of today. Engine thrust has grown from 14,000 lbs. to 28,400 lbs., max take-off weight has grown from 83,300 lbs. to 187,700 lbs., range has extended from less than 1,000 nm. to more than 3,235 nm., while wing span has been extended from 87-feet to 117 feet 5 inches with winglets. Overall length has meawhile grown from 92 feet 4 inches to 138 feet 2 inches.
There's more at the link. There's also a .PDF copy of a 1965 article reviewing Boeing's early plans for the 737, and its decision to begin planning a second, larger model even before the first model rolled off the production line. I find it particularly interesting because I rode aboard that second model, the 737-200, in South Africa from the early 1970's onwards, including one flight through the worst thunderstorm it's ever been my misfortune to encounter in the air. Coming in to land at Jan Smuts International Airport near Johannesburg, we were buffeted, bounced and bashed in all directions. When the pilot finally managed to slam the plane down on a hail-covered, semi-flooded runway and we slowed down amid sheets of spray, everyone aboard burst into loud applause. We were truly grateful to be alive - and very grateful to Boeing for building such a strong plane!
(Incredibly, some of those early 737-200 aircraft first sold to South African Airways are still flying in southern Africa, including one that made headlines in 2007 when an engine fell off! Must have been through too many of those thunderstorms . . . )