The Boeing 747’s 50th Anniversary
On September 30th this year, Boeing celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Boeing 747. The so-called “Queen of the Skies”, the Boeing 747 aircraft was a revolutionary aircraft that introduced new concepts and technologies to the aircraft and aviation industry, including the now standard twin-aisle design, advanced in-flight entertainment, and a hinged-nose.
When it was first introduced in 1968, the 747 was the world’s largest airplane with its tail as high as a 6-story building and a wing area larger than a basketball court. It’s capable of carrying more than 400 passengers at once. To build this massive giant, it took a group of 50,000 construction workers, mechanics, engineers, secretaries, and administrators. This team of professionals is fondly remembered as “The Incredibles”.
Despite how many professionals it took to bring the 747 to life, it is the first wide-body airplane to reach the 1,500-planes-manufactured landmark. But, that might also because it was launched as a versatile plane in three categories: all passenger, all cargo, and a convertible passenger/freighter model. In fact, there are some modified 747s that have been used as delivery vehicles for the Space Shuttle.
All the new technology that the 747 introduced meant that the pilots who would fly it had to be specially trained. At the Boeing training school, pilots were trained to taxi the 747 with the help of the “Waddell’s Wagon”, a simulated flight deck perched on 3-story stilts on a moving truck. During the first commercial flight of a 747, by PanAm from New York to London, engine failure caused a several-hour-long delay. Fortunately, changes were made and the “Queen of the Skies” became the preferred choice of aircraft for many world leaders, including former United States’ President George H.W. Bush.
Unfortunately, after 5 decades, more energy-efficient planes like Boeing’s successor, the 777, or Airbus’s competing 350
, have begun to displace “the Queen”. While the “Jumbo Jet” variation of the 747 is still popular as a cargo carrier, especially on long-range routes, little over 500 of these planes are still active today.
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Posted on January 14, 2019