'The Queen of the Skies'; Boeing says goodbye to the 747
EVERETT, Wash. - Looking up at the gigantic 747 outside the assembly line at Boeing’s Everett plant, Alisa Amber had a smile on her face. Looking back at her: the image of her grandfather, the head of the design team that created the aircraft, Joe Sutter.
"I grew up assuming everyone had someone in their life that changed the world," Amber said, noting how she didn’t understand her grandpa’s impact until much later. "I really just wanted to see Papa on the side."
Sutter's image, the lone reference to Boeing on the exterior, the rest was wrapped for its final client: Atlas Air.
Leadership at Boeing unveiled the plane at a large event on Tuesday afternoon. Roughly 5,000 people were in attendance, including John Travolta—the narrator who leapt onto stage at the end telling the crowd he couldn’t miss the event.
Travolta, a pilot in addition to his acting accolades, told the crowd he was lucky enough to learn the pilot the 747 in Seattle.
"There’s nothing like seeing a 747 take flight," he said, as a crowd gave him a thunderous applause.
The final flight will be something to behold. A Boeing executive noted that when the plane left Everett from Paine Field on Wednesday it would create a pattern of a crown with the numbers "747."
"It was exciting, it was new and it was so much bigger than anything we’d worked on," said Fred Diener, one of the ‘Incredibles,’ flown in for the unveiling.
The ‘Incredibles’ was the name given to the people working on the first-ever 747. According to Boeing, the production of the first-ever 747 began in 1967 and involved roughly 50,000 individuals from construction workers, mechanics, engineers, secretaries and administrators.
Diener was a manager. He oversaw planes from start to finish. He was in his 20s when the program began. Now in his 80s, he told FOX 13 News he wasn’t sure he’d fly in for the event. He was glad he did.
"Hard to not be a part of it," he said. "The better part of my career was working on the 747."
So much has changed since then. While the building that housed the 747 operation was the largest ever built, it was one of just three buildings at the time. Diener said the freeway didn’t even exist yet.
"I remember that," he said with a laugh. "Oh, it was a big thing."
"It’s nice to see the ‘Incredibles,’ being remembered as the people who did this," said Amber. "That’s what Papa would have wanted. It was never me. It was the team. They were the ‘Incredibles.’ It was never I did this, it was always the ‘Incredibles.’"
- The production of the 747 spanned 55 years with a total of 1,574 airplanes built for more than 100 customers
- The maximum take-off weight of a current 747-8 is almost one million pounds
- A single wing of a 747-8 could accommodate four 1,375 square feet homes
- NASA modified two 747-100s to move its space shuttles
RELATED: Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet
Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 13 Seattle app. Download for Apple iOS or Android. And sign up for BREAKING NEWS emails delivered straight to your inbox.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR EVERETT:
While the end of the 747 program at the Everett plant spells the end of an era, it doesn’t mean a farewell to the plant itself.
Plans to add an additional assembly line to build more 737 MAX planes is in the works, part of a long-term plan that involves Boeing adding 10-thousand new jobs in 2023.