Our plane, nicknamed 'Big Flo', is a 727-212 fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft built in 1978. She had 170 seats on board and three turbo-jet engines. Her registration number was N293AS.

In her past, Big Flo was used by Singapore Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Express One International. In 1996, she was used by Bob Dole during his US presidential campaign and eventually finished her commercial flying life with Champion Air in 2008.

The 727 was produced from 1963 until 1984. For 30 years it was the most popular airline jet in the world. It became the best-selling airline in history when orders passed the 1000 mark in September 1972.

The 727's success was based largely on its versatility and reliability. It was popular with airlines because it could take off from small runways, but was able to fly medium-range routes.

On 5 December 1977, the worldwide 727 fleet carried its billionth passenger. This mark had never previously been attained by a commercial aircraft.

The 727 has performed a total of 76.47million flights, and been involved in 50 accidents - a rate of 0.5 accidents for every million flights.

The 727 has a reputation for being one of the noisiest commercial jetliners. Current regulations require that any 727 in commercial service must be retrofitted with a 'hush kit' to reduce its engine noise.

An unusual feature of the 727 is its rear opening exit, which made it the perfect choice for us to facilitate the pilots parachuting out.

In 1971, a man hijacked a Boeing 727 between Portland and Seattle in the US. He obtained $200,000 in ransom before parachuting out of the rear exit. He has never been located or positively identified. In the wake of copycat hijackings, the FAA required Boeing 727s to be fitted with a device that prevented the lowering of the rear air-stair during flight.

The 727-200 is the same airframe as the 737, which is Boeing's only narrow-body (two sets of three seats, with one central aisle) airliner currently still in production, and the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation. There are over 7000 in service. There are, on average, 1250 Boeing 737s airborne at any given time, with two departing or landing somewhere every five seconds.