The Boeing 747 Turns 49 Years Old Today

Feb 10, 2018

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Oh, how time flies: 49 years ago on Friday, the iconic Boeing 747 first took to the skies — and proceeded to rule the aviation world as the “Queen of the Skies” for nearly five decades. The Jumbo Jet’s reign is coming to an end these days, with the retirement of the last one serving with a major US airline last December.

But you can still get on one from a variety of international carriers, from Lufthansa to Korean Air to British Airways.

Yet there are still hundreds in service, many as cargo carriers. On Friday, on the Queen’s 49th birthday, more than 200 were in the air at one time — and you can track them around the globe in real time:

Head over to flight tracking site Flightradar24.com and enter the aircraft code B74 in the Filter setting to see all B747s up in the air at any moment.

Arguably the most recognizable commercial aircraft of all time, the 747 was a pioneer when it entered service. The first wide-body plane ever produced, the 747 owed its distinctive looks to the “hump” on its upper deck, prominently situated along the front of the aircraft.

Despite their diminishing numbers, 747s can still be seen fairly frequently in the US, mainly at New York’s JFK airport, Miami and Los Angeles, which is where the images in this Instagram were shot.

Today, airlines favor newer, more technologically advanced designs that can ferry 400 people across oceans on two fuel-efficient engines instead of the 747’s four. Delta flew the last US carrier-owned 747 commercial flight in December 2017, following suit after United did so in November.

Featured photo, showing the delivery of the first 747 for Lufthansa in 1970, by Conti-Press/ullstein bild via Getty Images

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