Support Us Button Widget

Boeing says goodbye to the 747

The jumbo jet reshaped commercial air travel and was a big boost to Seattle.

A vintage photo of a Boeing 747 plane in flight

Over 5 billion people have flown on the 747, more than any other commercial craft in history.

Photo via The Boeing Company/The Boeing Company Collection at The Museum of Flight.

Forgive us if our emotions get a little turbulent today. Boeing is making its final delivery of the legendary 747 aircraft this afternoon — a month after production at its Everett factory ended.

Those are some large shoes (or wheels) to fill. When Seattle-born engineer Joe Sutter designed the 747 more than half a century ago, the jumbo jet revolutionized commercial air travel and helped solidify the city’s high-flying rep in the aerospace industry. (We didn’t get the nickname “Jet City” for nothing.)

Put your seat back in the upright position for a quick nostalgia trip.

A factory building Boeing 747 airplanes

Boeing built its Everett plant to accommodate the heavy 747 construction lift.

Photo via Seattle Municipal Archives, No. 149421

Kind of a big deal ✈️

In the late 60s, flights for regular folks were still just taking off. To make them cheaper and more accessible, Boeing built a wide-body airliner that could fly more people to farther-flung destinations faster. Hello, 747.

In 1969, the plane was tested over the Olympic Peninsula and then rolled out of the brand-spanking new Boeing plant in Everett. The company soon ran into financial troubles, but the 747 eventually helped lift it up — and became the best-selling jumbo jet in history.

Fit for presidents 🇺🇸

Modern innovations and concern about fuel efficiency are among the reasons 747s will no longer be made. But let’s not forget highlights of the jet’s amazing run:

The interior lounge of a 747 on Qantas Airlines during the 1970s

Cool new Capitol Hill club or 747 lounge in the 70s? Flying used to be groovy.

Photo via Qantas Airlines

Bon voyage 🥂

Boeing is live-streaming a celebration around the final delivery today at 1 p.m. if you want to wave bye-bye.

For those craving more local 747 history, visit the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field to see the first one ever built. Also, keep an eye out for the downtown office complex in the works that promises to display an old model inside.

More from SEAtoday