Thursday, December 27, 2018

Queen of the Skies

I'm currently in Puerto Rico on vacation but I wrote a post on my way down here.  Here it is:

As I type this, I am currently 37,000 feet in the air in a Delta Airbus A320.  But this story is about another aircraft, the Boeing 747.





End of last year, I came across several articles about US airlines retiring their Boeing 747 planes from commercial service within a month.  The 747, also know as the Queen of the Skies, is a 4 engine jet aircraft that is easily recognizable.  It has a hump at the front of the aircraft because of its double-deck.  A customized version of two 747s have been used by US presidents since 1990.  And since it became Air Force One, it has been featured in many Hollywood movies.  The 747s are still in use by the US carriers and other airlines as cargo planes.  But if you'd like to spend a few hours in the air on board the Queen of the Skies, you'll have to fly with a foreign airline.

The reasons the US airlines retired their 747s are efficiency and money.  Newer aircraft, that only have two engines, can perform the same tasks while consuming less fuel.  I don't know about you, but flying across the Atlantic for 8 or 9 hours, four engines sure does sound better than two.

I've flown on the newest variant, 747-8, thru Lufthansa between International Airport Dulles and Germany on my summer trips home.



You might say, why in the heck are you writing about an iconic airplane?  The whole story got started few weeks ago when a friend of mine, who is a pilot for America Airlines, flew to Washington National Airport.  While flying, he spotted Air Force One parked on the banks of the Potomac river at the National Harbor.  After landing, he texted me asking why is the Air Force One parked next to the Gaylord Hotel.  My response was that I had no idea.  After a quick internet search, we found the answer.  

Thanks to the Children’s Democracy Project, a 747 had been shipped (on water) to DC to serve as a small museum.  But the kicker is that the aircraft is only a replica of AFO.  The plane is a real 747 that's been retired and then retrofitted to look like AFO.  Nevertheless, I was excited to see it.  I drove down there to check it out.  They had a tour of the inside for $20 but since the aircraft never served as AFO, I passed.  Here are a few photos:



If you asked, How cool would it have been to see the president with the Air Force One?  My answer would be, Pretty darn cool, especially if it was President James Marshall!  Harrison Ford said it in the movie and US airlines repeated it to their 747 customers, Get off my plane!


6 comments:

  1. I flew on a 747 flying (with TWA) from London to NYC. To give readers an idea of how long the 747 has been around, that was in the summer of 1970. Also gives you an idea of how long I've been around too, ha.

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  2. I love the 747 too. There’s something special about sitting in the very 1st row with no one on the entire plane in front of you (including the flight crew who sit upstairs and a bit further back). You can actually hear the front landing gear wheels spinning once they’re retracted

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    1. That's pretty cool. I had a window seat once on a transatlantic flight and the two seats next to me ended up being empty. It wasn't a 747 though.

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  3. Despite the many domestic flights I have taken over the past few years, I have never given a passing thought to which plane I was on. As long as I had an aisle seat, I was good. Having recently been on a 15-hour flight to Australia, however, I can certainly see the importance of the plane and amenities when the flight is more than a few hours long.

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    1. That is one long flight! Aisle seat you say, I'm more of a window seat kind a guy.

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