Even as Boeing grapples with problems and assembles the first 747-8, it is quietly celebrating of the first flight of the 747 which took place today, 40 years ago, on Feb. 9, 1969.
At Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on a cold day with snow on the ground and broken clouds overhead, thousands had gathered to watch.
The plane, built at the casual request of Juan Trippe of Pan American, by 50,000 Boeing people called “The Incredibles”, who made aviation history by building the 747 — the largest civilian airplane in the world at that time, two and half times bigger than any existing airliner.
— in less than 16 months, was powered by newly developed fanjet engines by Pratt and Whitney.
26 airlines around the world including Air India, were the early adopters of the behemoth.
The 747 was flown on its maiden flight by test pilot Jack Waddell, co-pilot Brien Wygle, and flight engineer Jess Wallick.
As today, the program faced technical and schedule pressures. Even though the test program was eight weeks behind schedule, grit, determination and a grueling 1,449 hours test effort, involving five aircraft, ensured that deliveries to launch customer Pan American began on time, in December 1969.
Even the most normally unfazed of media icons gushed “The Giant Takes Off“.
Images courtesy Wikipedia and Boeing.