50 years of Boeing 747: How Queen of Skies reigned air travel
On Sept. 30, 1968, the first Boeing 747 rolled out of its custom-built assembly plant in Everett, Washington. From the beginning, everything about the plane once known as the “queen of the skies” was big.
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 or all of Disneyland.
I’ve been researching and teaching the history of American aviation for more than a quarter-century. Even though all U.S. airlines have retired their 747s, marking the end of an era, I believe it’s worth remembering the amazing story of the airplane that helped make international air travel affordable.
The jumbo jet is born
The story of the 747, like those of many other aircraft, began with a military request.
In 1963, the U.S. Air Force issued a proposal for a very large transport aircraft to carry heavier loads and have a longer range than then-existing transport aircraft such as the C-141.
Although Boeing lost its bid for what is now known as the C5 Galaxy, the designs and studies that went into its proposal didn’t go to waste. That’s because around the same time, Juan Trippe, the hard-charging president of Pan American World Airways, wanted Boeing to build an airliner twice the size of the first-generation jet airliner, the 707.
It would be “a great weapon for peace, competing with intercontinental ballistic missiles for mankind’s destiny,” he insisted.
Lion Air halts flights 2nd time, points to passenger behavior
Lion Air group airlines are suspending scheduled domestic and international flights indefinitely starting from June 5, 2...
British Airways Boeing 787 slid off the taxiway in Edmonton
A British Airways Boeing 787 was involved in an unfortunate incident in Edmonton, Canada, as it was reportedly pushed ba...
Qatar Airways flight QR203 lands in trouble due COVID-19 onboard
After 12 out of 91 passengers onboard Qatar Airways flight QR203 from Doha to Athens tested positive for coronavirus COV...
Japan’s new Zipair airline begins flights despite change of plans
Zipair, a new airline based in Japan, has begun flight operations, launching the first flight from Narita, Japan, to Ban...
US-China flights ban - 1 min to understand what has happened
On June 3, the U.S. administration announced to ban Chinese passenger airlines from resuming flights to their country. W...