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View Diary: From failure to massive cultural icon - the Boeing 747 (106 comments)

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  •  I have a couple of 747 stories, (7+ / 0-)

    although I have never flown on one. I will never forget the first time I saw one. I was on a 707 and  we landed at San Francisco. The year was 1968. Our 707 taxiied up and parked next to a 747. My first reaction was incredulity. It looked like the box our 707 came in, with LOTS of room for bubble wrap left over.

    The second 747 story involves my wife. We drove up to Greenwood, MS where a contractor had a big operation dismantling the big planes. They were dismantled, what was salvageable refurbished and reused, and the rest ground up for scrap. Much of our marriage was spent in the vicinity of general aviation airports and she had never seen a 747. The airport road went down a row of them , tails next to the chain link fence by the road. She keept peering up and asking over and over, "Are you sure those things can fly?"

    Boeing was an innovative company if nothing else. Many pilots swore by Boeing because their big bombers got them home alive, even with huge chunks of the airplanes missing or out of operation. When they decided to get into the jet age, veteran test pilot Tex Johnson took the first prototype of the 707 for a public demonstration hop over Seattle. He did not bother to share with the company brass exactly what he planned to do on that flight. It was captured on a film. He said he was fired and re-hired something like four times that day. It finally dawned on the Boeing executive offices that this was the greatest sales pitch such an airplane could get, and Tex pulled it off flawlessly.

    I just looked on Google Earth for the Greenwood-Leflore Airport. It is still there. It had been a military airfield during WWW-II, and the old layout of runways are still visible, but now closed (see the X painted on the ends) and used only as taxiways. The new runways will handle big airplanes. I see rows of airliners awaiting their fate sitting on the ramp, but the rows of 747s are long gone.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:36:59 PM PDT

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