Amazing Facts About The Boeing 747, Ending Her Reign In 2022

Reuters reports that the “Queen of the Skies,” will officially go out of production in 2022. When it emerged in 1969, the Boeing 747 was the largest civilian airplane in the world! It took a whopping 50,000 mechanics and engineers to build the magnificent craft, earning the workers the nickname “the Incredibles.” From its massive size to its powerful endurance, read on for amazing facts about the craft that reigned over the skies for over half a century.

Passengers Can Sit In The Nose Of The Plane!

One experience that may be worth adding to your bucket list is flying in the nose of the Boeing 747. To date, it’s the only aircraft that features seats in this part of the aircraft, which puts passengers ahead of even the pilots!

LAURENT FIEVET/AFP via Getty Images
LAURENT FIEVET/AFP via Getty Images

The position offers views unlike any other seat when it comes to landing and taking off. There’s also an upstairs bubble that passengers can book for a more private take on flying economy.

They Had To Make A Bigger Plant To Build It

Since the Boeing 747 was by far the largest plane to date, engineers didn’t have a plant that was big enough to construct it in. Before they could get to work assembling the massive aircraft, they first had to set up a giant plant.

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aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The plant is in Everett, Washington, and is still the largest building by volume in the world. The workers didn’t wait for the structure to be complete before starting on the first 747 mockups, finishing it before the plant roof was even done.

It Holds The Record For A Transatlantic Flight

The Boeing 747 isn’t just a fast plane; it’s the fastest. That is, it’s the speediest among commercial airliners. Its top speed is Mach.86, which translates to about 650 miles per hour!

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The plane is so speedy that it set a transatlantic record, making it from New York to London in less than 5 hours! It beat the previously set record, done by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2018, by almost 20 minutes! Not too shabby for a 50-year-old model.

It Broke A World Record By Carrying Over 1,000 Refugees

The Boeing 747 is both massive and fast, making it the perfect choice for the 1991 refugee project titled Operation Solomon. The covert military operation consisted of transporting 14,000 Jewish people from Ethiopia to Israel.

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Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

To get the job done quickly, the Boeing carried 1,088 passengers at its max, setting a world record for most individuals on an aircraft. This count includes two babies who were born on flight! They completed the task in a mere 36-hours and traveled non-stop.

It Did A Nonstop Flight From London To Sydney

In 2019, the media erupted with the news that the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner broke the record by flying from London to Sydney in just over 19 hours! What some may not realize is that the Boeing 747-400 had already accomplished this feat 30 years prior.

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aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In 1989, the Boeing 747-400 did the long trip nonstop, granted without any passengers or cargo. These long commercial flights require pilots to where brainwave monitors and undergo special testing before they can take on the challenge.

It’s First Flight Was Just Before Apollo 11

1969 was a major year for American flight technology. You may recognize it as the year that Apollo 11 placed the first human on the moon. Five months prior to that incredible achievement, the Boeing 747 had its first flight.

Getty Images
Getty Images

At the time, the Boeing 707 was one of the most popular aircrafts. The 747 version was more than 2.5 times its size! The massive aircraft revolutionized the airline industry.

It Carried NASA Space Shuttles

The Boeing 747 wasn’t only connected to NASA because of the year it came out. The 747 went down in NASA history when they chose the aircraft to carry its space shuttles over the C-5 Galaxy.

BILL INGALLS/NASA/AFP via Getty Images
BILL INGALLS/NASA/AFP via Getty Images

It came down to the Boeing 747 or the Air Force C-5. The innovative design of the 747 was impressive enough, but what sealed the deal what the fact that NASA couldn’t own an Air Force aircraft like they could a Boeing.

It Helped With Overcrowded Airlines

Juan Trippe, the found of Pan Am, pushed for the aircraft to be more than double their current commercial plane size to help solve the problem of overcrowding. Having aircraft that were twice as big would lower traffic because more people could travel at once.

Jimmy Wilds/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Jimmy Wilds/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

To top it off, the airlines could make twice the money in the same amount of time and with the same number of pilots. The efficiency of the Boeing 747 was its name to fame.

It’s Flown Billions Of Passengers

Aircraft fly hundreds of people a day, and the Boeing 747 has been around for decades. To top it off, the 747 has incredible flight capacity that makes it unmatched. All of these characteristics add up to make it one of the most traveled planes around.

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Daily Express/Getty Images
Daily Express/Getty Images

The Boeing 747 has flown a shocking 3.5 billion people! If each passenger only flew the aircraft once, that would mean that almost half the world population would have boarded the 747 by now!

It Was The First To Feature To Aisles In The Cabin

Nowadays, it’s normal to see a plane that has three columns of seats with a large middle section. When the Boeing 747 came out, though, it was the first of its kind to feature this layout because no other planes were so wide.

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-/AFP via Getty Images
-/AFP via Getty Images

The distinguishing characteristic was that there were two aisles on either side, rather than one going down the middle. This setup gave flight attendants more access to passengers and provided more accessible storage space above.

The Wings Needed Special Attention

Since the Boeing was so massive, it needed a tremendous amount of support that would come down to the wings. On top of that, the airplane would need to be able to lift off and land in airports that already exist.

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Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images
Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

This meant it would need enough momentum to fly off a traditional runway. Engineers designed specialized high-lift devices, edge slats, and fowler flaps, resulting in a 90% increase in lift and 21% in wing area.

The Wing Sweep Is More Than Any Other Of Its Kind

The wing sweep on the Boeing 747 is more than any other commercial aircraft in the world. It can angle as much as 37.5 degrees. Though the result was astounding, creating such impressive wings wasn’t always a smooth process.

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aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In earlier models, engineers noticed that the wings would flutter at high speeds. They used depleted uranium as a counterweight in the engine nacelles to solve the problem. Getting past obstacles along the way was how the team created a record-breaking craft.

Designers Thought It Would Quickly Become Obsolete

Designers anticipated that it wouldn’t be long before supersonic transports made the Boeing 747 obsolete. For this reason, they added an upper deck so that it could easily transform into a cargo carrier.

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Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The initial design featured an upper deck that extended along the length of the fuselage. The problem with this plan was that it prevented the aircraft from being able to be evacuated in 90 seconds, which is the FAA requirement. As a result, they adjusted the design.

Boeing Struggled To Fund The Project

Due to its magnitude, creating the Boeing 747 was going to be an expensive job. Not only would it require a ton of resources, but also the best engineers had to come together to design complex flying technology.

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aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Since Boeing was already more than $2 billion in debt, they had a hard time getting a loan. At the time, no other company had that much money they owed. What they had going for them was the fact that this aircraft would dramatically boost their profits.

More Than 1,500 Have Been Built Since 1969

Despite all of its setbacks, the Boeing 747 had a massive payoff. More than 1,500 747s have been built since it first flew in 1969. In 1985, an even more efficient 747 arrived.

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The Boeing 747-400 featured a new cockpit that only needed two pilots to operate it, whereas the first one needed three. This meant that even more pilots would be available to drive, which meant more massive aircraft to transport tons of people.

The Boeing 747-8 Serves As An Air Force One

The Boeing 747-8 is such a reliable aircraft that it is set to serve as the White House Air Force One before the production of the model ends. This honorable title is part of what makes the model so reputable.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

While some may assume only one aircraft is needed, there’s actually two Air Force Ones. This is so that one can serve as a decoy or a backup in case the United States president needs to make an emergency flight.

The Upper Deck Is The Size Of An Entire 737

While the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 737 may be almost identical in name, you don’t want to confuse the two when talking to an engineer of an aircraft enthusiast. A prominent example of their differences is how much larger the former is.

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BERTIL ERICSON/AFP via Getty Images
BERTIL ERICSON/AFP via Getty Images

The 747’s upper deck is about the same size at the Boeing 737. The funny thing is that the upper deck feels tiny compared to its main deck, making it an exclusive spot worth trying.

The Plane Requires 90 Gallons Of Paint

Any plane that has a set of stairs in it leading to a “smaller” cabin that’s the size of a regular aircraft is bound to need a ton of paint. Just think about all of the surface area that needs to be covered.

BERTIL ERICSON/AFP via Getty Images
BERTIL ERICSON/AFP via Getty Images

That’s why it takes 90 gallons of paint just to cover one Boeing 747! That’s not even including the other colors of paint used to add text to the sides of the plane.

The Cockpit Has 365 Switches, Dials, And Lights

Becoming a pilot is no joke, not only because you’re flying a massive hunk of metal through the sky, but also because it’s incredibly technical. The Boeing 747 has a whopping 365 switches, dials, and lights, and pilots need to know what they all mean.

aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

That’s one little nodule for every day of the year! Since nonstop flights are starting to enter the 20-hour mark, pilots need to be more alert than ever to perform such an enduring task.

Its Been Modified 15 Times For Special Purposes

Of the 1,500 Boeing 747s that have been constructed since its birth in the late ’60s, only 15 have been modified for special purposes. While this doesn’t seem like a lot compared to the total number of aircraft, its quite a bit of modifications.

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Plus, it says something about the quality of the aircraft when its recruited to perform such a variety of tasks. From carrying space shuttles to refueling tanker planes, the Queen of the Skies can do it all.