The Queen of the Skies Turns 50

Feb 9, 2019

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Feb. 9 marks 50 years of flight by the Boeing 747. Affectionately known as the Queen of the Skies, the jumbo jet has been flying all across the world for the last half century. The queen is one of the most easily recognizable aircraft flying, even if you’re not a total avgeek.

50 years ago today saw Boeing test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle, along with flight engineer Jess Wallick, get the 747 airborne for the very first time. The queen would officially enter service with Pan Am, flying from New York (JFK) to London (LHR). The very first commercial flight flown by the 747 was known as Clipper Victor, the same plane that would later be involved in the tragic accident at Tenerife.

Portrait of the "Clipper Victor", a Pan American World Airways 747 jet airplane parked at its terminal gate at Heathrow Airport, outside London, England, November, 1973. Baggage handlers wait with their idling luggage carrier trucks below the airplane's open cargo hold door. This particular aircraft, a Boening 747-121 with registration number N736PA, has an infamous dual distinction: It operated the inaugural Pan Am commercial 747 jet flight on January 22, 1970; and seven years later it was destroyed in the Tenerife airport disaster of March 27, 1977, the deadliest accident in aviation history. (Photo by Morse Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Portrait of the “Clipper Victor”, a Pan American World Airways 747 jet airplane parked at its terminal gate at Heathrow Airport, outside London, England, November, 1973. (Photo by Morse Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

If the Queen of the Skies is still on your bucket list, don’t worry, you can still catch a ride on this aviation legend using points or miles. You might want to book that trip sooner rather than later, however, as many airlines have started to retire their fleet of 747s.

There is no doubt that the Queen of the Skies will hold her special place in the hearts of avgeeks around the world long after the last one makes her final landing. Hopefully that day will be far off into the future. Happy 50th birthday to the Queen of the Skies from all of us here at TPG.

For even more of the queen, check out The Amazing Story of the Boeing 747 in 12 Photos.

Photo by via Getty Images

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