Boeing 747 Jumbo: ‘Queen of the skies’ reigned over air travel for 50 yrs

- A Monitor Report 01 Oct, 2018 | 5500 Views|-+
LONDON: The Boeing 747 was unveiled to a crowd of thousands on 30 September 1968, constructed especially to build the new plane to fly long-haul flights, with twice as many passengers.

From the beginning was dubbed as “Jumbo Jet”, the plane once known as the “Queen of the Skies” was big.

The Boeing celebrates its 50th birthday having first rolled out of its custom-built assembly plant in Everett, Washington, in the US on 30 September 1968.

It was the first wide-body “jumbo jet” ever built, involving about 50,000 construction workers, mechanics, engineers and others who took it from an idea to the air in just 16 months in the late 1960s. Until 2007 and the introduction of the Airbus A380, it was the largest civilian airplane in the world.

Just to produce the 747, Boeing first had to erect what was and still is the largest building by volume ever constructed – big enough to hold 75 football fields - the top of the rudder towered six storeys above the ground.

The 747 was – and is – probably the most easily recognizable jet airliner. The large size and distinctive “hump” at the front make it unmistakable.

Top international airlines queued up to buy the giant airliner, which allowed them to fly up to 8,560km without refuelling.

British Airways became the biggest customer of the 747 over the years, flying 101 of various models in its fleet. In 2018, BA remains the biggest current operator of the 1747, flying 36 of the - 400 model on long-haul routes.

Versions of the 747 have been used in a variety of famous ways. In 1990, for example, a pair of 747-200s began operating as Air Force One, the plane that ferries around the U.S. president.

It “starred” in two disaster movies – “Airport 1975” and “Airport ‘77,” not to mention several films that involved hijackings, including “Air Force One.”

The 747 also gained further fame from certain specialty missions. NASA, for example, used a specially modified 747 to transport the space shuttle between landing and launch sites.

And, of course, a 747 continues to fly around the “leader of the free world” and his entourage. In 2024, the 747-8 – possibly painted red, white and blue at President Donald Trump’s request – will take over the job, with a longer range, slightly higher speed and a higher maximum takeoff weight.

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