Final Boeing 747 jet on the runway to Atlas Air
Boeing will deliver its last 747 model jet to cargo carrier Atlas Air Tuesday after over 50 years and 1,574 jets made.
Boeing planned to hand over the cargo plane, which rolled off the Everett, Washington, assembly line Dec. 6, in a live-streamed ceremony at 1 p.m. PST Tuesday.
Although Tuesday’s plane was the last produced, it will not be the last to appear. Two presidential 747s, called Air Force One when the president is onboard, are being prepared with no date set for delivery, according to CNN.
The people who built and flew the Boeing 747, nicknamed “The Queen of the Skies,” are left to ruminate on its legacy.
“A real pilot’s aircraft, the 747 combined smooth handling, reliability and a classic look. It was a genuine privilege to have flown and it will be missed, but technology moves on,” Capt. Al Bridger, chief pilot at British Airways, told the Financial Times.
Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of the metal band Iron Maiden and a certified pilot, told Reuters, “On the ground it’s stately, it’s imposing. And in the air it’s surprisingly agile. For this massive airplane, you can really chuck it around if you have to.”
Workers at the Everett facility, the largest building by volume in the world, are bittersweet, many of them having spent decades working on Boeing 747 models.
“You have an airplane that’s kind of done its duty for 50 years,” retired 747 mechanic Scott Pettersen told The New York Times.
Vic Anderson, who has worked three decades at Boeing, told The Seattle Times he was surprised he outlasted the plane; his father, Kelvin, worked on the first 747.
“I got four kids and all of them have grown up with this airplane. The 747 has provided everything I have,” Mr. Anderson said.
The Boeing 747 will continue to fly the skies, primarily as a cargo plane. Some carriers, including Germany’s Lufthansa, still fly 747s for passenger traffic as well.
“We can still turn our eyes up to the skies and see the great contrails of the Queen of the Skies as she crosses the heavens, and we’ll know at that time that humanity can still overcome great adversity, and we can together accomplish incredible things,” Boeing corporate historian Michael Lombardi told the Financial Times.