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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Boeing said goodbye to the legendary plane


Once the largest and most spacious airliner in the world, the Boeing 747, over its more than half a century of history, has become probably one of the most recognizable aircraft: it stood out on the other sides by its characteristic “hunchbacked” upper deck.

Alan Meyer, professor, aviation historian at Auburn University and member of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, says:

“The second floor of the Boeing 747 was originally designed as a space for a cocktail bar. In the late 1970s, most airlines replaced it with additional passenger seats to sell more tickets. But this built-in cocktail bar reflects the ideas of the early post-war decades: flying should not only be the fastest, but also the most glamorous way to travel.

From luxury to medium transport, the aircraft rose, among other things, thanks to the Boeing 747. It remained the most spacious airliner for more than 35 years, until the advent of the Airbus A380.

The 747 has set many records, for example, in 2020 a British Airways 747-400, thanks to the passage of a hurricane, crossed the Atlantic in 4 hours 56 minutes – an hour and a half faster than habit. And on May 24, 1991, the Boeing 747 set a world record for the number of passengers carried in a single flight: during Operation Solomon to evacuate Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the plane carried 1,122 people.

“The Boeing 747 was more than twice the size of its predecessor, the first commercial Boeing 707, and could also fly about twice as far without refueling. This made it the ideal liner for transporting large numbers of people over long distances, whether coast to coast or across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,” comments Alan Meyer.

The handover ceremony of the last Jumbo Jet to the customer in Seattle was attended by Boeing Corporation employees, among whom were the engineers who developed this plane in the 1960s.

Thomas Gray, a former test engineer at Boeing, shared his nostalgia: “Now we see the 1574 plane, and have sent the very first one, it’s a real story. At the Seattle Aviation Museum – one of the most advanced aviation museums in the world – I show off the first Boeing 747, which I call my brainchild. And people are always surprised when I tell them that I made the first flight with this plane 54 years ago.

Carol Persak, a former Boeing employee, said that “tears flow when you realize there won’t be any more. Specifically, planes will still fly for sure, but they won’t be produced anymore.

Mike Stewart, a former Boeing employee, shared: “My wife said to me today: don’t cry! This is a very emotional moment for me: my father was one of the first employees here in Everett.

Over five decades, demand for the 747 has declined due to the introduction of more economical jumbo jets. In recent years, the company has produced an average of one aircraft every two months, for example, in 2022 a total of 5 were produced. For comparison: at the peak of deliveries of the best-selling version of the 747- 400 in 1990, Boeing delivered 70 aircraft.

“After more than half a century of production, which in itself is remarkable, the era of economic viability of the Boeing 747 is coming to an end. But the giant jet will always remain a symbol of the democratization of air transport, the making it accessible to everyone. I’m sure we’ll see some of these aircraft carrying cargo around the world for many years to come,” concluded Alan Meyer.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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The Eastern Herald’s Editorial Board validates, writes, and publishes the stories under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on


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