Boeing’s “Father of the 747” Has Died at 95

Aug 31, 2016

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The Boeing 747 — the “Jumbo Jet” or “Queen of the Skies” — is one of the most profound and innovative aviation products of all time. Its distinctive look, capabilities and sheer size has changed the world of aviation and long-haul travel forever. Yesterday, news broke that the engineer who created the beloved Boeing 747 in the 1960s, Joe Sutter, has died at the age of 95.

Boeing released a statement remembering the “Father of the 747,” which reads:

Joe led the engineering team that developed the 747 in the mid-1960s, opening up affordable international travel and helping connect the world. His team, along with thousands of other Boeing employees involved in the project, became known as the Incredibles for producing what was then the world’s largest airplane in record time — 29 months from conception to rollout. It remains a staggering achievement and a testament to Joe’s ‘incredible’ determination.

Sutter’s staple on the aviation industry is long-lasting, not just for the 747, but he also helped in engineering the Dash 80, the 707 and the 737, as well as the 757 and the 767 in the 1980s. Sutter retired from Boeing as executive vice president in 1986 at 65 years old. At the time, he was in charge of Boeing’s airplane engineering and product development in the commercial side of the company. Even following retirement, Sutter stayed involved with Boeing into his 90s, stopping by the company’s Seattle office regularly.

The iconic 747.
The iconic 747 changed the world of aviation.

The 747 took its first flight on February 9, 1969 and was introduced with Pan American World Airways on January 22, 1970. Through July 2016, there have been 1,523 deliveries of the 747, with 1,543 ordered, and JAL has taken delivery of the most 747s (108). Toward the latter part of his life, news had been circulating about the future of the 747. In March, United announced that it will retire its entire 747 fleet by 2018, and just last month, Boeing announced that it was considering ending production of its 747.

Sutter will be missed by all, and his legacy will live on in the skies forever.

What’s your favorite memory of the 747?

H/T: Skift

Featured image courtesy of Boeing.

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