The Final Boeing 747.
This week the final Boeing 747 rolled off the production line at Boeing’s Everett facility in the United States. Its bare metal fuselage covered in a green vinyl coating, belying its future colours as a freighter for Atlas Air.
In an era of inbuilt obsolescence and short shelf lives, the Boeing 747 found the key to longevity with more than 1,500 being built over more than half a century. Within their numbers were a series of ever-growing models with specialised variants that took telescopes into the stratosphere, carried the US President and even piggy-backed the Space Shuttle.
However, beyond its statistics and impressive history lay something more than its metal and muscle. The Boeing 747 struck a chord around the globe with all who came into contact with her. The four-engined jet the democratised air travel was synonymous with the making of memories and for those pilots, engineers and crew on the other side of the fence, it was both a reliable steed and an engineering marvel.
There is no doubting that at its core it is just an aircraft, consisting of millions of components working in unison. And yet, her departure around the world has been met with an outpouring of emotion – emotion for a machine. The Boeing 747 even came to be known as the “Queen of the Skies” against all others who shared the airways.
Now the final aircraft has left the factory, her numbers will gradually dwindle as they are progressively transferred from bustling airports to desert boneyards. Rather than lamenting the passing of the Boeing 747, we should retain and relive our memories and remember that a legacy was created by the 747 that can be seen in modern airliners today. It was the benchmark against which development took place to make commercial aviation safer and more efficient. Even if such enhancements inevitably sealed the fate of the 747.
I will always remember my association with the aircraft in the fondest of ways. How it took me to places I had never dreamed of and introduced me to people and experiences that I could not have imagined. She will still grace our skies for some years to come but even when she is finally laid to rest, the Boeing 747 will always proudly retain the title – “Queen of the Skies”.