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The Jumbo Jet is Born

On January 22, 1970, the first Jumbo Jet, the Boeing 747, was introduced to the public by Pan American World Airways. Christened on January 15 by First Lady Pat Nixon at Dulles International Airport, the 747 flew its first flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport. While many feared the 747 would not be a success due to its large size, it continues to be one of the most popular airplanes used today. The Boeing 747 is a wide-body airliner, which means it has two aisles, and can hold more than 400 passengers for more than 5,500 miles. The ability to carry many people long distances means that the 747 is one of the most economical airliners, so more people can fly at less cost. The plane has four wing mounted engines and the wings have a sweep angle of 37.5 degrees, which allows them to fit in pre-existing hangars. The 747 also features a two story design, with the cockpit and a lounge or extra seating located on the second floor. In freight varieties of the 747, the second story means that cargo can be loaded through the front of the plane using a nose loading door. Along with being the most popular airliner in history, the 747 is one of the fastest passenger planes, with a cruising speed of Mach 0.84-0.85 (555-565 mph). Boeing also has made versions of the 747 for government and military uses, such as the VC-25, better known as Air Force One, and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, which was designed to take space shuttles from the landing site to Kennedy Space Station. The Boeing 747 is also known as the Queen of the Skies because it allowed the masses access to economic long-distance travel.

Items in Our Collection:

747: creating the world's first jumbo jet and other adventures from a life in aviation by Joseph F. Sutter; Jay P Spenser

Wide-body: the triumph of the 747 by Clive Irving

The great gamble: the Boeing 747: the Boeing Pan AM Project to develop, produce, and introduce the 747 by Laurence Sherman Kuter

Boeing 747-400 by Philip Birtles