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16 Little Known Facts About The Boeing 747

Boeing may be ending production of the 747, but it's had a pretty incredible run.

1) The Boeing 747 first flew in February 1969, five months before Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

2) The 747 was the first widebody aircraft ever produced, meaning it had two aisles in aircraft cabin.

Luke Lai

3) Pan Am's founder, Juan Trippe, pushed Boeing to build a jet that was more than twice as big as the 707. At the time, airport traffic was becoming congested, and fewer, large aircraft would help Pan Am operate more efficiently.


4) The 747 was over 2.5 times larger than the Boeing 707, which was one of the most common commercial aircraft at the time.


5) One of the main reasons the upper deck was designed was to allow the 747 to be easily converted into a cargo aircraft. At the time, designers thought supersonic transports would quickly make the 747 obsolete, and its role as a cargo aircraft was essential.


6) The original 747 design had the upper deck running the entire length of the fuselage, but because the plane couldn't safely be evacuated in the FAA mandated 90 seconds, the idea was thrown out.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines

7) Complex high-lift devices were used so the 747 could operate out of existing airports. Leading edge slats and three-part fowler flaps increase the wing area by 21%, and increase lift by up to 90%


8) Boeing didn't have a facility large enough to build the 747, so they had to construct a new assembly plant in Everett, WA. The project timeline was so aggressive that the first 747 mockup was built before the building's roof was finished. The plant is still the largest building by volume in the world.

Meutia Chaerani

9) Early models of the 747 had a high-speed flutter problem in the wings. Engineers solved the problem by placing depleted uranium counterweights in the outboard engine nacelles.

Aero Icarus

10) The project was so expensive that Boeing struggled to get the loans to complete the project. Boeing had over $2 billion in debt - the most for any company at the time.

11) Development of the 747-400 began in 1985. With a new glass cockpit, the crew requirement was reduced from three to two pilots.

Paul Robbins

12) The 747 has a wing sweep of 37.5 degrees - more than any other commercial aircraft in the world.

Theodor Esenwein

13) The Evergreen 747 Supertanker, a modified 742-200, is the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world. It can hold up to 20,000 gallons of firefighting chemicals.


14) Since 1969, more than 1,500 747s have been built.


15) NASA chose the 747 to haul its space shuttles over the C-5 Galaxy for two reasons. 1) The low wing design made it easy to mount the shuttle, and 2) NASA could own the 747s, while they couldn't own an Air Force C-5.

AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon

16) With its iconic hump, the 747 has become one of the most popular and recognizable aircraft in the world. And it's safe to say it will always be the "Queen of the Skies".


Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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