Aviation Memorabilia Newsletter Since 1995

Aviation Memorabilia Newsletter

Since 1995

wayne albertson articles

CF-CPG -  First commercial jet to go supersonic 

In NetLetter #1456 (March 1, 2021) I wrote about the the CP Air DC-8 'Empress Fleet'.

One aircraft of the fleet has a special place in history as it was the first commercial jet to break the sound barrier. 

Excerpt from:

On 21 August 1961, a Douglas DC-8-43, N9604Z, c/n 45623, Line Number 130, flown by Chief Test Pilot William Marshall Magruder, Paul Patten, Joseph Tomich and Richard H. Edwards climbed to 50,090 feet (15,267 meters) near Edwards Air Force Base.

Placing the DC-8 into a dive, it reached Mach 1.012 (668 miles per hour/1,075 kilometers per hour) while descending through 41,088 feet (12,524 meters). The airliner maintained this supersonic speed for 16 seconds. This was the first time that a civil airliner had “broken the sound barrier.”

The aircraft was later delivered to Canadian Pacific Airlines in November 1961, re-registered as CF-CPG, assigned Fin #602 and named 'Empress of Montreal' (photo in this edition's header). 

It was later re-branded in CP Air livery in July 1968 (photo below) and renamed 'Empress of Buenos Aires'. It served its entire 20 year career in the CP Air fleet until it was withdrawn from service in March 1980 and purchased by F.B. Ayer & Associates. 

Sadly, it was broken up in May 1981. Considering its place in history, it is a shame that it was not preserved. Ken Pickford has the special memory of having flown on this 'Empress' a few times.

Thanks to Ken and Terry Baker for additional information.

See also:



 tmb 550 CF CPG CP livery

Use of photo courtesy of Bob Woolnough

Taken May 5, 1978 at Glasgow - Prestwick Airport

(Notice an Air Canada L-1011 parked behind the tail)