Queen of the skies: Why Boeing 747s are so cool

To celebrate our jumbo edition of Travel, Eli Orzessek takes a look at the beauty of the 747.

1. OUR FIRST FLIGHT

For many of us, our first international travel experience involved a flight on a Boeing 747. While many airlines around the world are retiring their 747s, we’ve still got a lot of love for the “Queen of the Skies”.

2. SHE WAS A GAME CHANGER

When the 747 was introduced nearly 50 years ago on a Pan Am flight, she changed the airline industry. Nicknamed the “Jumbo Jet”, Boeing made it possible to travel for much longer distances with numerous passengers — making the world accessible to the masses. The 747 brought in the era of the twin-aisle, wide-body passenger plane and with a wingspan comparable to a 20-lane highway, she’s impressively big.

3. PILOTS LOVE THEM

Due to her impressive size, Boeing initially worried that the 747 would be difficult to operate. However, designers and test pilots put in the hard yards to make the aircraft easy to handle both on the ground and in the air. The efforts paid off — pilots love to fly them and it’s been described as being like “flying a giant Piper J-3 Cub”, an aircraft that is ten times smaller.

4. THE UPPER DECK

While most airlines placed Business and Economy passengers on the same level, the 747’s upper deck provided a private jet-like experience for the most exclusive passengers — despite being on such a gigantic plane. At the rear of the upper deck is its own galley, serving food just for these lucky upstairs passengers. And there’s just something grand about ascending that 747 staircase.

5. SHE JUST LOOKS RIGHT

There’s a reason we all recognise that unmistakable silhouette — the 747 has a unique style that just looks so good. Despite numerous upgrades throughout its reign, its iconic shape and the characteristic hump at the front of the plane remains the same – bringing to mind images of birds.

And she’s incredibly photogenic — her graceful lines and perfect proportions have featured on many TV shows and movies. The esteemed British architect Norman Foster even described the 747 as the 20th century building he admired the most. As many have said, the classic jumbo jet “just looks right”.

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