24 November 2013

On my 747th post

This entry marks my 747th post. As a certified airline / airplane geek, I could not let this occasion pass without mention of my favorite airplane, the Boeing 747. I'll warn you now, my geek flag is going to be flying high so bow out now, if you feel so inclined.

I won't bore you too much, but some things to know about the 747:

  • In the 1960's, Boeing essentially bet the entire company on the development of the 747
  • The late, great Pan American World Airways was the first to order the 747 in April 1966 (not too long before I was born)
  • The first 747 rolled out of the factory in September 1968 and flew for the first time in February 1969
  • Her first commercial flight was in January 1970 from JFK to London. In a none-too-auspicious start, the flight was delayed due to a mechanical. Given that it was an inaugural, the passengers didn't seem to mind as they were mostly half in the bag, thanks to the copious amounts of champagne Pan Am was serving while still on the ground.
  • There have been multiple versions of the airplane, culminating with the latest version the 747-8.
  • The airplane is a renowned symbol of the United States, as it serves as 'Air Force One,' flying the President around the world.
My first flight on a 747 was on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Honolulu in my early teens. My first trip to Europe was on a Pan Am 747. My most recent flight on board a 747 was just last year on Korean Air flight from Seoul to Shanghai. I've flown on multiple versions of it and each time I fly her, I am in awe of the fact that the airplane, given its size, manages to take to the skies. She is an amazing aircraft and truly deserves the moniker 'Queen of the Skies.'
Rollout of the 1st 747
What flying in Theater of Cruelty / Coach class used to be like on a 747...seriously

There was a piano back there too...in Coach
And this was life on the upper deck...once upon a time
Gracing the skies today - the 747-8
So to British Airways, Japan Air Lines, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Northwest Airlines, Pan American World Airways (sniff!), and United Airlines, thanks for the memories on each of the types of the great Boeing 747 that I flew as one of your passengers. I'm not done with this airplane yet though. I still need to fly the 747-8 and I will. I'm too much of a committed airline dork to NOT do it.

And one last little known fact...the 747 can take a hit from a small plane, taking out the cockpit crew, and be flown by the lead flight attendant, who does so without getting a hair out of place while the plane barrels through the sky at 400 miles an hour with a gaping hole in the side. No lie...it was all chronicled in one of the most craptastic movies of all times: Airport 1975.

Look for it on your local purveyor of crappy movies - your local cable / satellite provider. It's worth the price of watching just to see the cavalcade of B-listers scream their way through this one. Enjoy!

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