The Boeing 747: The Plane That Shrank The World
The beginnings of the 747's story, however, began with a little-known military contract...
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June 20, 2020 - by Stephen Dowling for bbc.com
- The beginnings of the 747's story, however, began with a little-known military contract.
It became an icon of long-haul travel and exotic holidays; Boeing's 747 could fly more people further than any plane before. Stephen Dowling looks back at an aviation classic 50 years after it was first unveiled.
It is 30 September 1968, and a crowd of thousands has gathered at the new Boeing factory at Everett, about 30 miles (50km) north of Seattle. They are here to see the airline manufacturer's radical new design.
The 1960s has seen seismic social change, the race to put an astronaut on the Moon, the tumult of the Vietnam War and the undulations of Cold War tension. Over the course of the decade air travel has gone from being the preserve of the wealthy to something much more affordable.
Key to that has been a new generation of jet airliners. They are bigger and faster than their propeller-driven ancestors, and their powerful jet engines let them fly far higher – allowing them to climb over bad weather instead of having to fly around it. That means flights to far-flung places take a lot less time than they used to.
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