LONDON – Taking a glance at the aircraft manufacturer’s website, Boeing has this to say about the 747:
The historic 747, dubbed the ‘Queen of the Skies,’ revolutionized air travel as the world’s first twin-aisle airplane and enabled more people to fly farther, faster and more affordably than ever before.
Marked by its distinctively recognizable hump, this iconic airplane is a symbol of great engineering, innovation and often noted as an outstanding work of architecture.
Since production began in 1967, and the first 747-100 completed is first test flight in 1969, more than 100 customers have purchased 1,574 aircraft, logging more than 118 million flight hours and nearly 23 million flight cycles.
As Boeing prepares to farewell it’s final production 747 aircraft, here are 10 amazing shots of the iconic “Queen of the Skies” as captured by the AviationSource photographic team.
The legacy of the Queen of the Skies
Whilst the above description by the manufacturer is all true, and despite their nod to the icon that this aircraft has become; Boeing’s description of its 747 model falls short of capturing the emotion and the depth of feeling that this aircraft has evoked.
So, with hours before the very last Queen of the Skies departs the Everett production line, let’s simply soak up those iconic lines with this photo story.
Commercial airliners as we know them really saw their birth in the post-war years; the legacy to the accelerated development of the aircraft in wartime.
During that relatively short period of development several aircraft types could rightly be considered iconic.
Perhaps it’s found in the shape of the thoroughbred Supermarine Spitfire with its perfect elliptical wing. Or the loyal, solid yet uniquely graceful Avro Lancaster with its distinctive twin finned tail.
As the world moved into peacetime, and commercial airliners progressively came into their own, perhaps there has been none more iconic than the Boeing 747.
It is perhaps testament to its fundamental design that the aircraft still sees active service around the world over half a century since the first aircraft of its kind took flight.
In fact, the final flight of the role modified cargo freighter bound for service with Atlas Air comes almost 54 years since that first flight.
The original design of the Boeing 747 was something of a quantum leap forward for aviation. Increasing congestion at airports and demand for air travel necessitated the development of a new range of airliners with greater passenger uplift.
With the growing need for an aircraft with double the capacity of existing lines such as the Boeing 707, what became affectionately known as the Jumbo jet was born.
By the time of its inception the concept of greater safety through systems redundancy was already being implemented in commercial aircraft manufacture.
The 747 would build on that and become one of the safest airliners ever built. Further systems redundancy is were found in its hydraulic system, its dual control surfaces and its four main landing gear bogies, each with four wheels.
Everything at the time was on a “jumbo” scale. The aircraft literally became the largest part of an air transport revolution.
Today is Boeing prepares to say farewell to the last Queen of the Skies, the aircraft which still sees active service across the world over half a century since its inception has really immortalised itself in aviation history.
Watch Boeing and Atlas Air Celebrate the Final 747
Boeing will present a live webcast of the ceremony marking the delivery of the final 747 to Atlas Air on Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Pacific).
Thousands of people – including current and former employees as well as customers and suppliers – will celebrate the final delivery in the factory constructed to produce the iconic widebody with the distinctive hump.
The final airplane, a 747-8 Freighter, is the 1,574th manufactured during 55 years of production.
While the event is not open to the public, Boeing will make this live webcast available globally at this link.
After the event concludes, a video recording will be available on Boeing.com.