The end of an era: the last Boeing 747 left the factory today1 February 2023
What started with a rather random idea to replace the popular 707 with a larger version soon became reality with the first design of a twin-isle 'wide body' jet, halfway the 60's.
Expecting supersonic flight would soon become the standard for passenger flights, the engineers in Seattle decided to use some older concept drawings for an military cargo plane with an opening nose, so it could at least always serve in that gritty corner of aviation if it proved to be a commercial failure. Little did they know their compromise in design led to the iconic and highly efficient shape of the 747 as we know it today, still unsurpassed as a freighter half a century later, thanks to her range, capacity and reliability.
Many variants and improved versions followed, of which the famous -400 was by far the most popular model. But besides it's highly successful role as an intercontinental freighter and passenger airliner, the 747 proved the perfect candidate for unique roles like the highly sophisticated and upgraded VIP VC-25 version (better known as 'Air Force One'), Space Shuttle carrier, inflight-tanker, fire-fighter bomber, flying telescope platform, cruise-missile & rocket launch platform and Boeing even considered a concept that would act as an 'airborne aircraft carrier' carrying up to ten fighter jets that could be launched and retrieved in-flight. Awesome.
But alas: all good things come to an end.
And with the last 747 being produced it is a matter of time before even the one and only “Queen of the Skies” will forfeit her reign of aerial kingdoms to her far less charismatic two-engined sisters. A dime a dozen, if you ask me. But I guess I'm slightly biased, having flown the 747-400 and -8 all across the globe for over twelve years now.
I can honestly say I am beyond privileged to have spent so many hours at her controls while documenting my adventures through the lens of my camera. Here's to many more years to come.
Long live the Queen.