Boeing 720 “Caesar’s Chariot”

At the beginning of the 1950's the Boeing company created one of the greatest planes of the Twentieth Century - the Boeing 707, which undoubtedly initiated the era of passenger jet travel for the masses. In 1957, the company's management decided to modify the aircraft for possible use on medium-range routes and on runways of shorter length. Thus the Boeing 720 was developed, which in comparison with its predecessor was slightly shorter (the fuselage was reduced by 2.45m) and had a redesigned wing and in general was more straightforward to operate than the Boeing 707. Pratt & Whitney JT3C-7 engines were installed in the airplane. On November 23, 1959 its first flight took place, and 65 were constructed. A year later a more advanced modification was developed, the Boeing 720B, with JT3D engines. The principal operators of the Boeing 720 were US airlines, although a small number was sold to Germany, Israel, Pakistan, Ireland and some other countries. This machine with the serial number N7201U was delivered to United Airlines and was used by it on internal routes from 1960 to 1973.
In 1973 famous former American actor and singer Bobby Sherman together with his manager Ward Sylvester, co-owners of artists agency Contemporary Entertainment, purchased the plane from United Airlines with the intent of converting it into a convenient and comfortable 'flying hotel' for effecting flights between cities and out of the country by various artists. The music industry during this period was at its peak - a considerable number of performers of all styles of music plied their trade on numerous tours of the territory of the USA, and without any particular financial drawbacks the considerable fees received by them for concerts at that time allowed them to rent the plane for fast and comfortable travel from city to city.
The idols of that time, bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, the Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers Band, and singers Elton John, Peter Frampton, Sonny & Cher, and John Lennon, from time to time were clients of the VIP plane, known as Starship One. However, in the late 1970s, because of problems with its engines, it was retired, and then the famous American luxury hotel Caesar's Palace offered to the various bands' managers their own plane. It was also a Boeing 720 and it likewise had its own name - 'Caesar's Chariot' - which emphasized its glamorous status. The level of comfort on board was the equal of its predecessor, although Led Zeppelin, the first of the stars who used the services of the new machine, noted that they remembered Starship One with special nostalgia.
In 1979 following a number of 'bad events', Led Zeppelin cancelled their regular tour across America, and the Bee Gees pop group became the next clients of the 'superplane'. Now the Gibb brothers trio already had enormous popularity around the world, selling disks with sales of millions of copies. Their recent album Spirits Having Flown had been hugely successful and it wasn't surprising that their tour of the cities of the USA was undertaken with special grandiosity. For this purpose the plane was once again completely repainted - on its fuselage and tail was written the name of the album and a characteristic logo featuring profiles of the group members. In such fashion Caesar's Chariot made a grand tour with the Bee Gees around the country, however for the plane it was to be the last 'star tour' Led Zeppelin's tour of the cities of the US, due to take place shortly, was cancelled because of John Bonham's death and the effective demise of the well-known rock group. The Bee Gees may have been the last clients of Caesar's Chariot, however this tradition has carried on, and stars of later eras continue to hire modern aircraft, carrying out tours on different continents and the countries of the world.


  1. Boeing 720 N7224U ‘Caesar’s Chariot’, Bee Gees USA tour, Winter 1979.
Technical Specifications
Length 41,4m
Span 39,9m
Passenger 167/40
Take-off weight 100800kg
Cruiser speed 967km/h
Range 6687km
Engines 4 x Pratt&Whittney JT3C-7, 53,3kN