Long live the queen!
The Boeing 747 (aka “Jumbo Jet” and “Queen of the Skies”) first rolled out of the Everett assembly building on September 30th, 1968. The model 747-100/SR/B first entered into service with the now extinct Pan American World Airways (Pan Am).
44 years have passed since Boeing unveiled the 747 to the world in that act. Since then, over 16 versions of the aircraft have been developed, including the VC-25A variant used by the United States Air Force for presidential or VIP transport.
However it was until February 9th, 1969 when the first 747 had its first official test flight. On October 1975, the 747 worldwide fleet carried its 100 millionth passenger. As of April 2012, 1435 units have been built.
Among the most heavily modified versions of the 747 we can find de 747-400 Dreamlifter and the Shuttle Carrier Aircrafts used by NASA. The Dreamlifter is used for transporting 787 parts to the company’s assembly facilities from suppliers around the globe.
The Shuttle Carrier Aircrafts now face an uncertain fate with the end of the Space Shuttle Program. In the image below you can see the Endeavour riding “piggyback” one of the two shuttle carriers owned by NASA.
The future of the 747 family now lies on the 747-8 Intercontinental, the newest version for passenger transport currently operated by Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific.
September 26th, 2012.
Sources: Boeing / Wikipedia