The Final Boeing 747’s Special Delivery Flight

The Final Boeing 747’s Special Delivery Flight

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This week the end of Boeing 747 deliveries was celebrated in a very special way…

The last Boeing 747 in the world has been delivered

On January 31, 2023, Boeing delivered a 747-8 to cargo airline Atlas Air. It wasn’t just any 747, though, but rather it was the last 747 ever produced. A huge event was held at Boeing’s Everett factory to celebrate this.

It’s cliched, but the Boeing 747 is truly the plane that made the world smaller, opening up routes and city pairs that were previously unimaginable. The plane has long had the title of “Queen of the Skies,” and for good reason.

The final Boeing 747 ever produced

The journey of the 747 began in 1967, and the plane remained in production for over half a century. In total, 1,574 Boeing 747s were produced over that time period. As is the case with most planes, incremental improvements were made over time, with the introduction of the 747-400 in 1988, and the introduction of the 747-8 in 2005.

For better and worse, technology has improved considerably over the years. It’s for the better that we have planes now that are smaller, more fuel efficient, and longer range, since that enables all kinds of city pairs to be served nonstop. It’s for the worse in the sense that many of us love the 747, and are sad to see the plane progressively be phased out.

The 747 is being replaced by planes like the 787

The last Boeing 747’s special delivery flight

Atlas Air’s is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747, as the carrier flies dozens of these jets around the globe (primarily with cargo). Yesterday the airline flew the final 747-8 to be produced from Seattle to Cincinnati. Specifically, the plane has the registration code N863GT.

The direct air distance from Paine Field (PAE) to Cincinnati (CVG) is 1,965 miles, so you can expect that the flight would have taken under four hours if flown direct. However, that’s not what happened, as the plane made a special detour.

Specifically, the plane instead took the scenic route over the state of Washington, drawing a special message in the sky.

Atlas Air’s final Boeing 747 delivery flight

As you can see, the Atlas Air 747-8 “drew” the numbers 747 in the sky, with a crown on top of it.

Atlas Air’s final Boeing 747 delivery flight

In the end, the flight took around 6hr20min, so this little display took over 2hr30min to complete.

I’m not as sentimental about this as I expected to be

I’m a huge avgeek, and the Boeing 747 is my favorite plane. However, I’m not particularly sentimental about this milestone. Why? Well, the reality is that the last passenger Boeing 747 was delivered all the way back in 2017, over five years ago.

So from a passenger’s standpoint, we’ve already had many years to process that no new passenger 747s are being produced. On the plus side, Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China are continuing to fly Boeing 747-8s, and they should stick around into the 2030s. Now, I’ll absolutely be sad when the final passenger 747 flight operates, and will do what I can to get on that (though I imagine there could be some competition for that).

Ah, the beautiful Lufthansa Boeing 747-8!

Bottom line

It’s the end of an era, as Boeing 747 production has been wrapped up, after 50+ years. Atlas Air took delivery of the world’s final 747-8 this week, and it celebrated the occasion with a special flight, rightly acknowledging the plane’s title as the “Queen of the Skies.”

It’s sad to see Boeing 747 production end, though in reality we’ve only seen cargo versions of the plane produced in recent years. As passengers, we can continue to fly the 747 on airlines like Lufthansa and Korean Air. Now, it’ll be a really sad day when there are no more passenger 747s in service.

What do you make of the last 747’s special flight?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Scott Guest

    For now, I am a member of a small (but hopefully growing club). I have stepped aboard 747 #1, and I've also stepped aboard 747 #1574. Long may she fly.

  2. John Guest

    Ben, the last passenger 747-8i was delivered in 2017, not 2015.

  3. Bob Guest

    I thought there were two more 747s non cargo to build.
    The two new USA president rides.
    Is there some law that the president rides must have four engines?

    1. BRC Guest

      They have already been built. They were built for a Transaero, who never took delivery.

    2. DuaneU2 Gold

      They've already been built, two planes that a bankrupt Russian airline never took delivery of.

  4. Tom Gauger Guest

    As an ex-private pilot, I'd really like to know how the flight management system was programmed to make that perfect logo in the sky over Washington State. The flight following software shows the B747 flew a rigid set of programmed waypoints without distraction from wind or other variables that might have changed the meeting points in the exercise.
    Really remarkable!

    1. Chris Guest

      The FMC will fly point to point and makes corrections for wind to stay on the direct line.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      You can draw genitalia or crowns in the sky, but you can't find runway 4L.

      Imagine what it would look like flown by hand.

  5. BAS Guest

    i was a northwest orient flight attendant ...then delta by way of merger...at NWA we flew up to 56 747's...200's and 400's...i believe that was the number...no matter how many times i worked it...i was amazed and astounded by that planes beauty and engineering .passengers were awed and i will always be grateful to Boeing and Northwest Orient for allowing me to be part of such an american marvel

  6. PugMama Guest

    My father, who passed away in 2003, worked on the 747 line in Everett for many years. It was his first job with the Boeing Company. He later moved to the 757 line, but the 747-400 was the reason he was hired at the company. It’s bittersweet for me and my family today to see the final plane leave Everett. Big thanks to those pilots who unknowingly paid tribute to my dad and thousands of other people who took great pride in their work on that beautiful bird.

  7. XPL Diamond

    One of my earliest memories as a child was my family moving to the Pacific Northwest because my father, a Boeing lifer, had been transferred to the still-just-a-project 747 team in Everett. I remember how excited he was to tell us about different project milestones, and to show us around on family days at the plant.

    Know-it-all kid that I was, I beat it out of town as soon as I graduated from high...

    One of my earliest memories as a child was my family moving to the Pacific Northwest because my father, a Boeing lifer, had been transferred to the still-just-a-project 747 team in Everett. I remember how excited he was to tell us about different project milestones, and to show us around on family days at the plant.

    Know-it-all kid that I was, I beat it out of town as soon as I graduated from high school and never went back except for funerals. Yet, full circle, there I was not too long ago taking my stepdaughter to a factory tour, telling her about the grandfather she never knew and trying not to tear up.

    Here's to my old man, and the thousands of other proud machinists and engineers who made the Queen of the Skies.

  8. JD Guest

    I'm with you! Just love flying the beautiful Boeing 747-8, especially in first out of MEX-FRA. There's just nothing like it in this part of the world.

  9. CK Guest

    Will be taking my first ever flight on a 747-8 this April. Was excited about the prospect when I noticed that plane was slated for our flight. My wife is way more of an airplane nerd than me and was super-stoked about it when I told her. We will be upstairs in business, so short of being in the nose in 1st, this is supposed to be as good as it gets on a 747...

    Will be taking my first ever flight on a 747-8 this April. Was excited about the prospect when I noticed that plane was slated for our flight. My wife is way more of an airplane nerd than me and was super-stoked about it when I told her. We will be upstairs in business, so short of being in the nose in 1st, this is supposed to be as good as it gets on a 747 from what I hear. Not sure if it will ever happen again but I can at least say I did it once in my life. Hopefully I'm not jinxing us and nothing happens to change our plane.

    1. Emily_K New Member

      If you are flying Lufthansa, be sure to select row 88 if it is available. The front of the hump does not have a very good wing view at all.

  10. Alec-14 Gold

    Glad I’ve been able to sit in the nose and upper deck of this plane before they’re all gone!

  11. Donna Diamond

    I loved every single flight, such a fitting tribute to a great plane!

  12. GoAmtrak Gold

    Watch the final 747 pax flight end up being in Iran.

    1. JB Guest

      It might be lol. That will make getting on the last flight way easier for those of us who can get into Iran! I actually hope it takes place there, since that eliminates a lot of my competition to be on the last flight :)

  13. Tortuga Diamond

    Ben, do you know who was in the cockpit for the flight? I wonder if there were any figureheads.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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BAS Guest

i was a northwest orient flight attendant ...then delta by way of merger...at NWA we flew up to 56 747's...200's and 400's...i believe that was the number...no matter how many times i worked it...i was amazed and astounded by that planes beauty and engineering .passengers were awed and i will always be grateful to Boeing and Northwest Orient for allowing me to be part of such an american marvel

1
PugMama Guest

My father, who passed away in 2003, worked on the 747 line in Everett for many years. It was his first job with the Boeing Company. He later moved to the 757 line, but the 747-400 was the reason he was hired at the company. It’s bittersweet for me and my family today to see the final plane leave Everett. Big thanks to those pilots who unknowingly paid tribute to my dad and thousands of other people who took great pride in their work on that beautiful bird.

1
XPL Diamond

One of my earliest memories as a child was my family moving to the Pacific Northwest because my father, a Boeing lifer, had been transferred to the still-just-a-project 747 team in Everett. I remember how excited he was to tell us about different project milestones, and to show us around on family days at the plant. Know-it-all kid that I was, I beat it out of town as soon as I graduated from high school and never went back except for funerals. Yet, full circle, there I was not too long ago taking my stepdaughter to a factory tour, telling her about the grandfather she never knew and trying not to tear up. Here's to my old man, and the thousands of other proud machinists and engineers who made the Queen of the Skies.

1
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