Jumbo – The Plane that Changed theWorld

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  JohnHarper 7 Mar 2014
at 13:29

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  • Anonymous


    For those aircraft aficionados BBC2 is running a documentary as per thread title.

    9pm Thursday 27th February BBC2

    ….It revolutionised travel, its massive size enabling more of us to go abroad cheaply. And yet when it first took to the skies in 1970, the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet was intended to be a stop gap…


    Thanks for the heads up BigDog. As my monicker suggests I am a huge fan of the 747 and saddened that the number in services is reducing all the time.

    The 747-400, to me, is the most beautiful passenger aircraft ever designed.


    I love the picture in “Handling the Big Jets” by Davies that shows the way that the 747 lifts off so readily that there is the risk of hitting the runway with the aft tip of the fuselage.




    I remember my first flight on a 747 quite clearly for all the wrong reasons.

    The Qantas flight to Sydney via Manila was one of the last to leave Kai Tak as a typhoon approached. The plane was shuddering violently while we were still at the gate and incredibly humid. I was sitting in the last row of Economy with Les Paterson’s twin brother in the next seat breathing several bottles’ worth of whisky fumes over me for the duration, volunteering that Qantas stewardesses were all b*tches and cautioning me against travelling to Port Moresby (neither pieces of travel advice I particularly required.

    Qantas in those days was somewhat rudimentary, and the cabin crew uniforms a riot of all that was bad about 1970’s fashions. Beige flares and the solitary female crew member in an outrageously floral dress. Shouting, whistling and gesticulation were preferred methods of communicating with passengers, rather than the PA.

    The flight routed around the typhoon as best it could en route to Manila, but we really were shaken within what felt like an inch of our lives. In the middle of this, there was a loud bang and flashes from the back of the number 2 engine. I’d always thought Australians were a pretty tough bunch, but there was a lot of screaming going on in the rear cabin that night. A steward nonchalantly advised us that this was just soot being shaken from the exhaust and igniting. He seemed to imply this was an everyday occurrence – I’ve never found out whether this was an accurate description of what had actually happened.

    I’ve never been so glad to land as I was when we reached Manila that night, and had there been a plane waiting to take me home, I probably would have taken it.

    I hope the documentary is a serious one. The 747 has probably been an important part of many of the travelling lives of posters on this forum and it would be good if it does it justice.

    Anyone else have any fond (or otherwise) experiences?


    BA744fan – 23/02/2014 17:48 GMT : The 747-400, to me, is the most beautiful passenger aircraft ever designed.

    Well, I’m going to have to disagree with you on a couple of points there.

    For looks, Concorde beats the 747 into a cocked hat.

    And the 747 wasn’t designed to be primarily a passenger aircraft, it was designed as a freighter.


    I’m with BA744fan on this one. Ian, you’re right Concorde was without doubt the most elegant and beautiful aircraft to take the skies. It was an ambassador for this country, the true Blue Riband champion. Concorde was truly head turning.

    So Ian I will now argue that the “Queen of the Skies” also fell into that category. Ever since, I was a little boy, when we used to get packed in the car , pyjama’s and all to drive to the runway perimeter fence to see AC’s new 747 land at 9.15pm from YYZ. I gasped in awe and wonderment at the scale and grace of such a plane.


    When I moved to Scotland, I was asked to do a presentation as part of my management training,, meant to test my learning on how to capture an audiences interest and engage them in the subject matter.

    The title I chose was “The jumbo Jet, my favourite invention”

    I vividly remember them being aghast as I took them outside to recreate in the car park the sheer size of it, I then got them to contemplate the weight and other interesting statistics about our aircraft.

    Hermes, my first flight on a 747 was YVR-HNL and “Singing in the rain” was the featured movie!
    It was memorable because I really didn’t want to stop in Hawaii (en-route to Oz) as I had developed a phobia due to watching Hawaii 5-0,I was convinced something bad would happen to a family member after we left the safety of our Orange jet, and in my little boy mind this fear compounded itself as we banked over Diamond Head and flew past Waikiki and all the landmarks that I recognised moved from TV land to real land .

    I’ve flown many times on all the CP empresses, but my first flight was on “Empress of Asia”


    IMO CP’s colours somehow managed to enhance her graceful lines.


    BA744fan – 23/02/2014 17:48 GMT
    canucklad – 27/02/2014 13:41 GMT

    …. the most beautiful passenger aircraft ever designed…..

    Gentlemen, am afraid you are technically incorrect. I understand the 747 was initially designed to be a Cargo aircraft not a passenger one… sorry.

    The cockpit was so high up to allow the nose to open for cargo loading!

    Methinks the passenger redesign with upper deck cabin was, although genius, a bit of an after thought. Though all will be revealed tonight – it has a high rating among several TV columnists who I guess have had a preview.


    BigDog & Ian …… you’re close with the freighter point.

    I’m sure that we will find out tonight, but if my geeky memory serves me right both Boeing and McDonnell Douglas lost out to Lockheed on a military contract for a large transporter / troop carrier.

    Out of the ashes rose the 747 & DC10


    I just love the 747. I agree Concorde was the most beautifully elegant plane produced, but, as my Grandma used to say, beauty isn’t everything! The 747 was I think the peoples plane. Almost everyone could afford to fly on her and it was a SIA 747 that transported me out East, in the back in Economy, to set up my first business deal.

    On subsequent trips I recall chatting to the flight crew, who were mainly Aussies and who’d trained on fighters in Vietnam. I imagined doing barrel rolls in one of those beasts but sadly (or rather thankfully) that never happened. They told me how the engines would regularly pack up and sometimes they completed the flight on just two engines!

    It is sad airlines are retiring them and not buying the -800, which I’m really looking forward to trying.

    I just flew back from NY on the 744 JFK – FRA in F. I still can’t get over it. Just 8 seats upstairs + 8 beds. I was expecting this but the sleep I had was the best ever. Taking off just after 2230 I climbed into the bed, no bumps, crinkles, folds or anything else, and slept solidly, through turbulence the works, till 20 minutes before landing.

    Truly a wonderful plane and firmly my favourite.


    I agree i have had great pleasure in flying with the 747 and great memories, no other aircraft has yet reciprocated this.

    Iran air just retired their 747-100 recently, So I would give it another 20-30 years until the last 747-8 is retired.


    I got round to watching this programme yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I was left at the end though with a sense that days are numbered, the 748 is not selling as a passenger aircraft and as LH have already decided to withdraw it I don’t see others deciding to buy it. The 748 does look stunning in the LH livery.

    Already at major world airports you see few 747s compared to five years ago so while they will be around for a while, opportunities to fly it are fewer. I now find that on multi-leg trips it’s not unusual that I never set foot on one whereas five+ years ago it was the most common plane I set foot on.


    The 747 is without doubt a world leading aircraft which will sadly fade away. Would it not be great if Boeing designed the 747-777 version … a twin engine aircraft with the looks of the 747-8. Enough of my dreaming !

    As a teenager, I always enjoyed boarding SAA’s 747 SP for the non stop Saturday night flight from Heathrow to Cape Town in the 80s. Especially in winter, it was a joy arriving to summer weather, on the only non stop weekly flight from London. In those days, BA flew to JNB via NBO. No other carrier flew to the Cape. My family used to book for the Saturday night flight before Christmas, a year in advance. It was a gorgeous aircraft !
    The dark nose similar to Air Canada.


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