2/09/1969: The Queen of the Skies Takes Flight

2/09/1969: The Queen of the Skies Takes Flight

DALLAS — Today at 11:34 PST, in 1969, the prototype Boeing 747 took to the skies from Seattle, Washington, for the first time. Test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle were on the flight deck with Flight Engineer Jack Wallick.

Chief Test Pilot Jack Waddell poses before “Waddell’s Wagon.” This was a mockup of the Boeing 747 nose atop a truck used in ground testing to show precisely how high the flight deck was above the ground. Photo: Boeing

“We called this fine team of aviators the Three Ws,” said the late Joe Sutter, “Father of the 747.” Sutter had led the engineering team that developed the aircraft in record time, just 29 months from conception to roll out.

It was a monumental occasion in aviation history. The prototype Boeing 747 takes to the air for the first time. Photo: Boeing

Delayed Maiden Flight

Initially, the maiden flight had been scheduled for the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight on December 17, 1903. However, delays inevitably pushed back the historic event.

The prototype 747 was christened ‘City of Everett’ after the location of the factory where Boeing built the jet. Appropriately registered N7470, the aircraft remained with Boeing as a dedicated testbed for other variants of the 747 and, later, the 757 and 777. When it was retired in 1993, it had completed over 12,000 hours. 

Today, the jet resides at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, Washington, US.

Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, Washington, US. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways
Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, Washington, US. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

“Queen of the Skies”

The Boeing 747, known as the “Queen of the Skies,” was the world’s first wide-body airliner. The development of the airplane, which had begun in 1963, was a considerable gamble for Boeing. The manufacturer would risk a significant amount of its net worth.

But it was a risk worth taking. The Boeing 747 is now one of the most recognizable airliners in the world. The aircraft revolutionized civilian aviation, opening air travel to the masses. Over 1,500 airframes have been built and are operated by many of the world’s international airlines. The type remains in production today, albeit in a cargo-only capacity.

Boeing 747
Photo: Boeing

Featured image: The maiden flight lasted 75 minutes after a minor technical issue forced the jet to return to Boeing Field. Photo: /Brandon Farris/Airways

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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