"You know, this is one of the great ones." That's what Charles Lindbergh once said to Joe Sutter. He was talking about the 747. He might just as well have said it about Sutter himself, the Boeing engineer who spearheaded the design and construction of the legendary airplane.
On February 9th, 1969, the first flight of the Boeing 747 took place, and this was called the -100 series. . The new versions have winglets, as well as an "all glass" cockpit, meaning computers and screens, eliminating the need for a flight engineer, with about a third of the instruments, indicators, dials etc.
Boeing flies its 747 model for the first time. The jumbo jet, christened the City of Everett, is the first new Boeing transport not painted in Boeing's traditional prototype colors of brownish-copper and yellow.
Crowds of people gathered at Paine Field in Everett that morning to witness the flight of the largest transport plane in the world. On board were pilot Jack Waddell, co-pilot Brien Wygle, and flight engineer Jess Wallick. The weather started off bad, but at 11:00 a.m. the clouds began to thin.
Waddell eased the throttles forward. The superjet accelerated down the runway, its nose lifting. Halfway down the field the giant plane took flight at 164 m.p.h.
Accelerating the craft up to 184 m.p.h., Wadell ascended to 2,000 feet, circled the airport and began climbing to 15,500 feet. Following the 747 was a North American f-86 chase plane, its pilot acting as an observer.
The 747 model has a wing span of 195 feet, 8 inches and a length of 231 feet, 10 inches. This makes the plane 53 feet greater than the 707-300, and 79 feet longer. The 747, at 735,000 pounds, weighs almost twice as much as the 707.
With a cruising speed of over 600 m.p.h., the 747 has a service ceiling of 40,000 feet, and a range of about 6000 miles. The plane can carry up to 450 passengers, up to 270,000 pounds of cargo, or a mixture of both.
In order to build the 747, Boeing built a new facility in Everett. At 472 million cubic feet of space, it is the largest building in the world.
In the early 1960s, airlines started thinking about larger jetliners to accommodate the growing number of air passengers Boeing's market research showed that air-passenger growth would be dramatic and concluded that only a plane that could hold more than 300 passengers could manage this increase.
Pan American Airway's president Juan Trippe was especially interested in such a plane, first talking about it with Boeing's president William Allen in the fall of 1965 and pushing to make it a reality. The two signed a letter of intent in December to develop what would be the 747.
Trippe formally ordered 23 passenger and two freight versions in April 1966, an order totaling $550 million. And once non-U.S. airlines realized that Pan Am planned to dominate the international airline market with the 747, they also ordered some.
Nevertheless, building the plane was a highly risky undertaking for Boeing, both financially and technically. It stretched both airframe and engine technology. The company committed to an ambitious development schedule and also required Pratt & Whitney, the company that would be providing the engine, to quickly come up with a turbofan engine powerful and dependable enough.
The massive airplane required construction of a new plant. This 200-million-cubic-foot (5.7-million cubic meter) assembly plant—the world's largest enclosed space, large enough to hold 43 football fields—north of Seattle, cost $200 million and put the company in debt right from the start. From the time the company decided to proceed with the project, $2 billion were invested in the project. Daily expenditures in 1969 reached $6 million per day.
EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 15, 1999 -- The only airplane with a name that's a household word - the Boeing 747 - has added yet another award to an already crowded trophy case: its own postage stamp.
In an employee celebration in the Everett factory where the world's fastest subsonic jetliner is built, the U.S. Postal Service today unveiled the new 33-cent "Jumbo Jet" postage stamp, which goes on sale Thursday at post offices nationwide.
"Being honored with a stamp is especially meaningful because our 747 is included with two other very significant events in aviation history also receiving stamps - the Wright brothers first flight in 1903 and Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic," said Phil Condit, Boeing chairman and chief executive officer. "I think that's pretty good company."