Caesar's Chariot

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Caesar's Chariot
Boeing 720, Private JP5894674.jpg
Caesar's Chariot showing Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records logo on the tailplane
Role private passenger transport
Manufacturer Boeing
Status dismantled
Primary user Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Led Zeppelin
Number built 1
Developed from Boeing 707
Career
Construction number 18077
Registration N7224U
Fate dismantled for parts[1]

Caesar's Chariot was a former United Airlines Boeing 707 passenger jet which was chartered by English rock band Led Zeppelin for their 1977 concert tour of North America.

The plane, N7224U (S/N: 18077), was rolled out from the assembly line on December 12, 1961 and its first flight was on January 16, 1962.[1] It was delivered to United Airlines on April 10, and in 1975 was purchased by Desert Palace Inc. and then by Todd Leasing in March 1975, when it was named Caesars Chariot.[1]

Caesar's Chariot was hired by Led Zeppelin in 1977 from Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Paradise, Nevada. The band required the plane because the plane they had previously used for their 1973 and 1975 North American concert tours, The Starship, was permanently grounded at Long Beach Airport with engine difficulties, and they required a comparable alternative.[2]

Caesar's Chariot had been converted from a regular Boeing 707 into a 45-seat plane. For the 1977 tour, the fuselage of the plane was painted with the 'Led Zeppelin' and 'Swan Song' logos. It was also fitted with huge, overstuffed-chair type seating, and there was a bar and private rooms for each member and a Hammond organ.[3][4] The fees charged for leasing the plane amounted to $2500 per day.[4]

As they had done on their previous 1973 and 1975 concert tours with The Starship, Led Zeppelin based themselves at major cities such as Chicago and used Caesar's Chariot to shuttle them to and from concerts. Tour manager Richard Cole explained:

It (Led Zeppelin's 1977 tour) wasn’t a lot different to me from the ’75 tour; it was the same process of workin’, you know. We had our 707 jet, and I worked out what cities were in range of Chicago. It was easier to leave at 3 or 4 or 5 in the afternoon and then just go to our plane and fly straight into the city we were performing in. It was specifically because it was much better and more comfortable for us to be based in one city and fly in and out. And leave straight afterwards and go straight back to Chicago.[4]

After Led Zeppelin returned the plane in late 1977, it returned into service until Boeing Military Airplane Company bought it in late 1986 and placed it in Davis-Monthan AFB in early 1987 for KC-135 re-engine and spares support program. It was totally parted out by the end of 1987, but parts may have been rescued by an aircraft maintenance school.[1]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Starship" at Led Zeppelin.org
  2. ^ Lewis, Dave and Pallett, Simon (1997) Led Zeppelin: The Concert File, London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-5307-4, p.92
  3. ^ Steven Rosen, On the Road with Led Zeppelin, Modern Guitars, May 25, 2007
  4. ^ a b c Steven Rosen, "Led Zeppelin's 1977 Tour - A Tragic Ending!", Classic Rock Legends.