Boeing’s 747, the world’s first jumbo jet and the symbol of luxury air travel, is set to make its final appearance on Tuesday (31 January) with the delivery of its last 747-8 freighter to cargo airline Atlas Air.
The iconic aircraft, known for its recognizable humped silhouette and wide body, revolutionized air travel and earned the title “Queen of the Skies.”
The 747 was first manufactured in 1968 and quickly gained recognition as the world’s first twin-aisle wide body jetliner, offering not just luxury in its upper deck but also transforming travel with its endless rows in the back.
For decades, it remained a notable symbol of luxury in the skies but with the advent of ever-changing transportation technologies and competition from companies like Airbus, the 747’s reign as the “Queen of the Skies” has come to an end.
According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, only 44 passenger versions of the 747 remain in use, while there are still over 300 freighter 747s in the sky. Despite its diminishing numbers, the 747 remains an important part of aviation history and holds a special place in the hearts of those who have worked on the legendary plane.
This was the airplane that introduced flying for the middle class in the US,” said Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith.
“Prior to the 747 your average family couldn’t fly from the US to Europe affordably,” Smith told Reuters.
Darrell Marmion, a top engineer at Boeing who recently retired, shared his memories of working on the 747, “I’m retiring with my airplane. I’m actually glad at the timing, because I do care so much for the airplane.” He went on to say, “One of my earliest memories in life was about 5 years old and my dad taking me on a tour of the mock-up of the first 747. You just look at the shape of it and you know what it is. It’s timeless and classic.”
The last send-off of the Boeing 747 marks the end of an era in aviation history. The iconic aircraft will forever hold a place in the hearts of those who worked on it and in the memories of those who had the privilege of flying on it.
The 747 may no longer reign as “Queen of the Skies,” but it will always be remembered as a symbol of luxury and innovation in air travel.