Delta’s first Boeing 767 The Spirit of Delta represents the best of Delta – its people – who joined
together to buy a $30 million jet as a symbol of hope, pride and their commitment to success in 1982.

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In 1982, Boeing called the 767 an “airplane for Today—and Tomorrow.” The 767 was the first cost-effective airliner designed after fuel prices soared in the early 1970s, and it marked a new efficiency in jet technology. Innovations included fuel savings – 30 percent better than the older jets it replaced, quieter engines, an electronic flight deck and improved passenger comfort.

“Best” no longer meant “biggest.” The 210-passenger 767 filled the size gap between the medium-range Boeing 727 and the wide-body Lockheed L-1011 in Delta’s fleet. By 2006 when The Spirit of Delta retired, Delta had flown 112 of these planes, the world’s largest fleet of 767s.


“I made the first contribution to the airplane. It was a wonderful event. One of the most emotional times in my life and my career at Delta.” David C. Garrett, Jr., Delta’s chief executive officer, 1978-1987

In 2008, Mr. Garrett recalled two highlights of his almost 50 years at Delta: “How much I enjoyed and respected the people of Delta,” and Project 767, when employees purchased a Boeing 767 as a $30 million gift for Delta in 1982.


“The Spirit of Delta” commercial, 1983

“That’s The Delta Spirit” ad campaign, 1983-1984, was inspired by the excitement and public interest in Delta employees’ purchase of a Boeing 767 as a gift for the airline.

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In 1996, The Spirit of Delta became a test lab for live TV. Delta was the first airline with live broadcast television programming, offering customers a new in-flight entertainment experience.

The big hump on top of The Spirit of Delta is actually a radome – a remnant of the world’s first satellite TV receiver on a commercial plane. It was installed in 1996 for operational trials of live TV that lasted for about two years.

Also in 1996, Delta was the first airline to offer in-seat power to charge passengers’ laptops, first available on The Spirit of Delta.

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In Delta service from 1982 to 2006, Spirit was the “goodwill ambassador” of the fleet. She wore special paint schemes for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and Delta’s 75th anniversary in 2004, and participated in many special assignments, including air shows, cross-country tours and charity flights.