What Boeing 747 has to do with fat bears?

Sergey Uryadnikov

Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve announced the winner of the 2020 Fat Bear Week contest. As the name of the championship suggests, it was won by a very fat bear (the wild animal-sort of brown bear) that has both successfully wowed the audience and packed on the pounds to survive the harsh winter season. Appropriately for the occasion, the winner-bear shares a name with a jet aircraft. And not any aircraft, but the Boeing 747 itself. 

Let’s take a closer look at the similarities between Bear 747 (the fat bear) and the Jumbo Jet.  

Bear 747, the now-officially proclaimed winner of the Fat Bear Week 2020, is one of the most dominant bears of Brooks Falls, according to the statement by Katmai National Park and Preserve (Alaska, the United States), the organizer of the competition. First identified in 2004, the bear is a force to be reckoned with. Last estimated in September 2019, he weighs over 1,400 pounds (636 kilograms).

Usually, dominant bears can maintain their status through aggression. But Bear 747 is so huge, that his sheer size is enough to intimidate competitors. “Only rival males of comparable size, of which there are very few, can challenge him for fishing spots,” is explained in the statement. “Most bears recognize they cannot compete with him physically and they yield space upon his approach.” 

Appropriate for a bear, who shares the name with the Boeing 747 ‒ the jet that gained a spot in aviation history due to its sheer size alone. 

What’s behind Bear 747’s name?

For years, in the category of the largest passenger aircraft in the world, the Boeing 747 essentially competed with itself. When Bear 747 was first identified (in 2004, remember?), the Jumbo Jet still held the title, but was de-crowned when Airbus A380 entered service, three years later. 

Through the years, the Boeing 747 (different variants of it) held multiple similar titles, including the heaviest commercial aircraft in regular service until 1982; the most capable airliner (=seating the most passengers) until the Airbus A380; and longest airliner until the Boeing 777X. Even the plane’s cargo version has a title in its own right – the heaviest mass-produced aircraft.

The plane is so huge, that even the factory where it is made, Boeing Everett Plant, was custom-built for the airliner’s production and became the largest building in the world (by volume). 

  • The Boeing 747 (depending on a variant) can accommodate up to 660 passengers onboard. However, a Boeing 747-100 once carried 1,088 people. 
  • The tail of a 747 is as high as a six-storey building, while its upper deck competes in size with a Boeing 737. 
  • The Jumbo Jet wingspan is longer than the distance flown by the Wright Brothers on their first flight.


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