And another airplane…

Made its debut 51 years ago, February 9th, 1969…

At least Boeing saved this one… And it became known as the 100 or SP series. The upstairs portion in the hump behind the cockpit was depending on the airline, either a lounge or ‘private’ first class seating.

I got my first flight on one in early 1973, from DFW to HNL aboard this bird…

It was known as Big Orange, and I remember that each ‘section’ had a different color scheme. Upstairs was a lounge and snacks. And they were FAST! Cruising at 560 kts, that was a quick trip to Hawaii. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago, yet another 747 broke the record for the fastest trip from New York to London, thanks to a ‘significant’ tail wind of about 240 kts, beating two Airbuses that were minutes ahead of them and minutes behind them because they cruise slower… LOL

Not bad for a 50+ year old design.


And another airplane… — 21 Comments

    • Yes. The planes are already building.

      President Trump got a good deal out of Boeing as they were cancelled by the original carrier. They were already next-gen versions of the 747, but went back to be rebuilt with all the spiffy spy stuff that makes them Air Force 1 capable, things like chaff and flare dispensers, even more powerful engines, communications gear and so forth.

      There was some talk of the 787, but the fleet was aging and showing signs of being used a lot, so jumping on the deal was a great alternative.

  1. I’ve never flown on a 747, though I had a fair amount of time in 707s and DC-8s back in the day, as well as the smaller 727s and DC-9s. No sardine cans back then. You got legroom.

  2. My only flight on a 747 was a TWA nonstop from Athens to New York in ’74, while on leave. There was only one other person (another sailor) in my section of the plane, and we sat on opposite sides. Probably to enjoy the solitude after a year on a tin can.

  3. I was at NAS Whidbey when that occurred and had flown over to Everett Field during my private training. Mom worked for Braniff at DFW back then and came to visit us in Hawaii on Big Orange several times. The wife and kids flew back to DFW while I was on deployment.

  4. In 1969 while trying to finish college, I worked as a ramp rat for Braniff. Braniff had just one 747 they used for their Hawaii route. With diligent maintenance they kept it going. Many people thought they had a fleet of Orange 747s.

  5. The DC-9 was no slouch speed wise either! I flew a 747 twice to Japan and back. Fast, decently roomy and good ride. Been in the tin cans….737 with minimal seat space and wished I was in the 747….

  6. If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going!
    Valid in WWII. Still valid (737MAX excepted).
    I’ve toured the Everett plant. “Impressive” is such an inadequate word.
    Have taken 747s to and from IAD-Heathrow (Pan Am), to and from Australia (Qantas), and Ireland (Aer Lingus). Ah, Qantas stewardesses vs. Aer Lingus stewardesses … but that is for another day.

  7. If you can find “Jumbo: The Plane that Changed the World”
    on DVD get it. A BBC production on the development and history of the 747.

  8. It was 1970 at PHNL waiting for aunt and uncle that I saw the flagship airline taxi in their 1st 747. It happened that it’s gate was right in front of where I stood at the large windows. A massive aircraft, the only larger was the C-5A.

    And, the words I uttered that day have become prophetic; that will be obsolete before I fly on one.

  9. Hey Old NFO;

    My first flight on a 47 was when we flew to the states from Germany when I was a kid, I believe it was Braniff because I vaguely remember having a set of wings with the “sun” logo. I flew one a few more times to Europe and back in the mid to late 70’s. In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was 767’s. My employer retired all their 747’s and we have the first “400” series in our company museum.

  10. Hey – you sure it was ’73? Only asking since DFW didn’t open until ’74. Or might it have been from DAL? 🙂

    I first saw Big Orange land at Love Field when Braniff took it on its maiden flight tour. Was an amazing sight for the time… in the early 60’s, we used to ride our bikes over to DAL and watch the planes land. Played “army” in the old terminal building and even got on the roof, pointing toy rifles at the planes! Late 60’s, we’d drive over to the Bachman Lake side of the field and hop the fence so the planes would land over us – glad none of ’em landed short!

  11. However, I was at Everette KPAE and saw most of the testing of the Dreamliner. Later, at Victorville KVCV for more testing. Amazing aircraft.

  12. Bob- Interesting! 🙂

    Tom- You’re right, it was out of Love Field.

    R- That they are! 🙂 I have a couple of friends that work the line in Everett.

  13. My first 747 experience was on a journey from Guam to my home in Louisville. The Honolulu to Chicago portion of the trip was on a United 747. (The entire journey was Guam to Hickham on a MAC flight. Honolulu to Chicago, with a stop in LA, on a 747. And the last leg from Chicago to Louisville on a 727.)

    What made the 747 portion of the trip so memorable was that from Honolulu to LA, the plane was full. I don’t think there was a single empty seat. In LA all but 12 passengers got off. I guess in the days before the hub-&-spoke system, the airline needed to get the plane to Chicago regardless of how many empty seats there were, because there were more crew members than passengers. The flight attendants allowed all of us to move up into the first class section in the nose.

    I was in my white Navy uniform and was seated right next to this gorgeous redheaded girl who was about my age. The entire trip from LA to Chicago, she tried to “chat me up”. Unfortunately, since my journey had started in Guam, by this time, I was both jet-lagged and exhausted. I couldn’t stay awake to save my life.

    This was in the spring of 1975.

    • Roy, the ‘hub and spoke’ system literally grew up with the advent of commercial air travel. It has been in place since the beginning.

      Aircraft have been repositioned since the beginning. Even now, many flights are simply to reposition. But nowadays that so many people travel, those flights, which would go anyway, are packed with passengers.

      Oh, don’t ever try to understand the airlines. Even them who are in charge in scheduling, dispatch, etc don’t fully understand.

  14. The pilot was most likely my long time friend Ben Huston. He was a 747 captain for Braniff until they went broke the final time. I have spent a lot of time in Everett on 767,777. I took my first 747 ride from DFW to Taiwan.

  15. “Not bad for a 50+ year old design.”

    I say this into the mirror every morning.