13 October 2015

boeing 747

For the love of the Jumbo

They have been jetting across our skies since the early 1970's. They changed international tourism forever, allowing the masses to travel. They have been the bedrock of many airlines long haul fleets. By 2020 however, British Airways will have all but retired this most majestic of machines. Virgin, although continuing to operate them from other airports will retire their Heathrow based 747 operations by April 2016. And the face of UK aviation will be changed forever. So in anticipation of this moment in our aviation history, we write our own tribute to this majestic plane that has allowed millions of us to reach places that were once never possible. For the love of the Jumbo, the 747

Boeing 747
A British Airways 747 on its finals into Heathrow 
Uniquely beautiful
You would be hard pushed to find many plane spotters and aviation fans who don't like the 747 (please let me know if you don't like it). Which when you look at it is perhaps strange. It doesn't have the beautiful lines of other aircraft. The hump at the front makes it seem cumbersome. But since those early days it has become a familiar feature of our skies. Looking up into the clear skies it was instantly recognisable. The four contrail lines a clear indication. It's unique sound as it flew overhead. Unfortunately the older versions have made it an expensive aircraft to fly, partially due to environmental costs airlines now have to pay.  

The first time
On board you knew you were in a special plane. Can you remember the first time? Looking in awe at the rows of seats heading into the distance. You knew then you were on something very large. I was once lucky enough to sit upstairs. Not in business class but on a short flight between Tokyo and Seoul. The cabin had been turned into an economy section. It still made my day! Before the arrival of the Airbus A340 and A380 there was no passenger aircraft like it. A truly unique flying experience.

Part of our culture
The 747 has featured in film and song adding to its status. The British band The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) sang the following line from the song Night in the City from their wonderful "Out of the Blue" album.
"747 just left from gate 11"
Its been seen in a number of high profile films such as Air Force One and the Airport series. It's also the choice of aircraft for the US President. Making the 747 probably the most recognised commercial aircraft flying today. Well with a name like "jumbo" its hardly going to be forgotten.

Boeing 747
Thai Airlines 747 taken at Narita Airport - Tokyo
Time to move on
Sadly though aviation has moved on. Yes the Jumbo will still be around for many a year to come. The new 747-800 testifies to that. Although perhaps more a freighter than a passenger carrier. Here in the UK though we are to sadly see it disappear from our airlines fleets. Newer, quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft will be taking its place. Before it does depart, lets take a moment to remember this most wonderful of aircraft. 

Many a traveler has been privileged to have flown on it, not just with BA or Virgin but many of the worlds leading airlines. So lets all salute the plane that helped to change the industry we know as tourism. Gone but certainly not forgotten. The 747, the Queen of the skies. Have you flown on the 747? What does it mean to you? I'd love to hear from you. 



© Sketches in Travel. All rights reserved.