Delta Retires the Northwest Compass

Another milestone was reached in Northwest’s integration into Delta on January 3 and 4 when the last six airplanes in Northwest colors left the fleet. This also marked the airline’s retirement of its small remaining fleet of DC-9-40 airplanes. The airplanes were all sent to Orlando’s Sanford airport, and a friend was able to fly one of those airplanes down.

Northwest DC-9-40s Retired

The Northwest compass logo was always one that I loved. It was simple, clean and highly descriptive. It also just looked good. I imagine Delta’s skyward-pointed widget got some inspiration from this design.

The DC-9-40 was one of many stretches of the original version. It sat in between the -30 and -50 in size but with only 71 examples produced, it wasn’t one of the most popular variants. It did, however, serve Northwest well.

Northwest DC-9-40s Retired 2

As you can see, this example was built in 1968. I imagine it could have kept flying for many more years. Douglas used to build tanks in that sense. These things can fly forever. And Delta continues to fly them in the form of the larger DC-9-50 but only with Delta colors. So now the -40 is gone and so is the compass logo. Delta has made quick work of this transition from a painting perspective, and that’s good. But a little nostalgia is well-deserved.

[Photos via Sara Gradwohl]

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