Happy 50th Birthday to the 747-the first plane I loved!

people walking up a plane

On the 9th of February 1969, the first 747 flew for the first time, a nearly two-hour flight from Everett, Washington and back again.

a plane on the tarmac

Flying to Sydney on the 747.. pick the departure airport

My first flight with the 747 was on my birthday on a Pan Am flight to Sydney, Australia in 1971. My parents had organised for a birthday cake on the plane. I had already fallen in love seeing the plane from the Hong Kong airport window. Every second of that journey felt like magic (Pan Am was still a great airline at that time). For months afterwards, I would pretend I was on a 747 and run down the backyard path imagining it was a runway and feeling that amazing lift.

an airplane parked at an airport

I flew Melbourne to Sydney, Australia on the 747 further away in the picture and continued onto Los Angeles on the closer plane

I have gone on to fly the 747 a total of 97 times. This is 97 powerful takeoffs and 97 incredible landings.

I have remained in love with this plane while traveling safely almost half a million miles (almost 20 times around the world) to 16 countries on five continents with 747s operated by 14 airlines. I have spent one and a quarter months of my life flying on a 747! I even timed my 747th flight ever to be on a Qantas Jumbo.

a yellow note with black writing on it

My 747th flight ever on a QF 747

Today, 536 of the 1500 produced are still flying according to planespotters including:

  • 12 of the  original 747-100s
  • 19 747-200s which had greater fuel capacity, heavier lift capability, more powerful engines and a longer range-these appeared on the Pacific routes
  • just 3 747-300s- longer upper deck, slight aerodynamic tweaks resulting in a slightly higher top speed and the spiral staircase was banished
  • 372 747-400s which increased range again, reduced fuel consumption and needed a flight crew of 2 instead of 3
  • 130 747-8s, the longest version with the greatest passenger capacity

Most of them are operated as freighters.

a man standing next to an airplane

The City of Canberra is a Boeing 747-438 delivered to Qantas in 1989. During its delivery, it made a non-stop flight from London Heathrow to Sydney which is the longest non-stop un-refuelled delivery flight by an airliner. The plane is now decommissioned and at the HARS museum in Australia.

a man sitting in a plane

I flew the City of Canberra twice across the Pacific and on one occasion sat in this seat on the upper deck. It is now at the HARS museum where I got to sit in it again.

I never flew Pan Am again. These days, I spend more time on A330s, 787s and 737s than 747s. I have my heart set on three more 747 flights in my lifetime to get to 100 flights on the beautiful jumbo. I would like them to be on the 747-8 which is the only type I have not flown on. Now to make it happen.

What is your 747 love story?


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