The Iconic Boeing 747 Will Be Etched in My Memory Forever as Last Jumbo Leaves Assembly Line 53 Years After First Flight
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I express my special thanks to Boeing Images for making the official Boeing 747 pictures available to me for this special post dedicated to my favourite plane in the world. The ten official images and two informative PDF files supplied for this post are published under a licensing agreement with Boeing Images and may not be reproduced or distributed without the Boeing company’s permission. I also express my indebtedness to Heather Anderson and Jim Proulx of Boeing’s Intellectual Property and Communications departments, respectively, for their prompt responses to all my emails and for facilitating the publication of the official images of the 747 in this piece honouring the plane — Malik Merchant, Simerg Photos.]
My love of planes began very early during my childhood in Lourenço Marques (LM), Mozambique. The city, which is now called Maputo, had fantastic toy stores and my interest and fondness for planes and trains grew through amazing displays of the toys in their window displays and inside the stores. The store staff would creatively and intelligently set up the toy trains to go around little tracks around the store — moving through tunnels, bridges and alongside lakes, rives and mountains, and with stops at stations and railway crossings! The beautiful set up would entice us into begging our parents to buy the toys for us. They came at a price!
At the age of 6 or 7, I was the second best student in my class and was presented with an opportunity to select a prize that my Portuguese teacher had laid on her desk. My eyes, from the very first moment I entered the class on that memorable day, were set on a beautiful large plane that in my opinion was the best piece on the table. To my surprise — and indeed joy — the top student who was called to collect the first prize picked up a doll. I have to admit I was fascinated with dolls too, because LM had a beautiful store that was filled from floor to ceiling with extraordinary dolls and doll clothing and accessories. However, I never developed a strong interest to own a doll for myself — may be I was a little bit shy!
I knew my turn was next to collect the trophy. In sheer excitement at seeing the red and white plane still lying on the desk, I stood up even before my name was called out. I neatly put it in the packaging box that came with it and proudly took it home. My parents were pleased and thrilled with my achievement in the class. I played with the plane for a long time until it eventually broke down.
Two more plane related memories come to my mind from the late 1950’s. The first one is that of a unique photograph of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, waving from a plane as he departed LM after a 3-day visit, the first after he became the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims 10 months earlier. The second one is being at the LM airport to bid farewell to my dad who was flying to Aswan, Egypt, to attend the final burial ceremony of the 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III (November 2, 1877 – July 11, 1957), in February 1959.
Then, from my teen years, I remember my first plane trip in 1966 from Bombay (Mumbai) to Karachi for a short visit to my aunts and uncles in Pakistan. Thereafter, we flew to Nairobi. The last 45 minutes of the flight were very scarry as the plane started shaking but we arrived in Nairobi safely. Our final leg of the journey to Dar es Salaam was delayed by several hours. These flights were on DC or Comets.
My next and most memorable flight was from Bombay to London, via an Air India Boeing 747, in August 1972. My cousin, Zaheeda, who worked for Air India, got me a seat on the 747 and I never imagined a plane with a stairwell and a huge nose. I vividly remember that the plane stopped in Dubai. The length of the plane was just incredible, and the 747 from that day onwards has remained my favourite plane. Seeing it occasionally over London skies while playing cricket would remind me of that first and only 747 flight that I took. The sight of the Boeing 747 brought me immense joy.
On December 9, 2022, Boeing announced that the last of the Boeing 747 — 1,547th in the manufacturing line — had left its assembly line and would be delivered sometime in 2023 to its owner Atlas Air, who would use it as a freight plane. I was sad at learning this and spontaneously decided to honour the plane through this piece.
My request to Boeing for permission to produce a selection of photographs of the 747 was kindly reviewed and accepted, and I am delighted to produce ten official photos under a licensing agreement with Boeing.
Boeing also supplied me with two PDF files containing textual information about the 747. I have followed the official Boeing photos and information with photographs of other Boeing models that I took from viewing points around the city of Calgary.
I conclude this tribute to 747 with Alex Praglowski’s excellent YouTube presentation of a 747 departure at Calgary International Airport some 5 years ago. Plane enthusiasts should visit Praglowski’s YouTube page for EXCELLENT videos and images!
I thank 747 for landing me safely at Heathrow 51 years ago! I may note that I didn’t lose the small cricket bat I was carrying within the vastness of the JUMBO. What a plane!
Boeing 747: Official Images from the Boeing Company; Copyright © Boeing
The venerated Boeing 747 has changed the face of aviation forever. The airplane, from the beginning, has relied on more than 1,000 domestic and international suppliers. According to one 747 operator, no less than five and a half tons of food are needed on a typical international flight — excerpt from a Boeing 747 caption.
The Life and a Historical Snapshot of the World’s First Jumbo Jet
Boeing Landings and Takeoffs at Calgary International Airport
Calgary, Canada, offers some of the best locations to view plane landings and takeoffs. I have lived in about 12 different cities in the world but I have never seen anything like what Calgary offers to passionate plane lovers. When my daughter, Nurin, visited me last summer and I took her to a large viewing area named after Edward Laborde (1913-2003), my love of planes took her by surprise. The location has picnic tables and plane enthusiasts come well prepared for sightings of unusual planes and those from overseas. Their plane stories are remarkable and, in fact, there is a Facebook group YYC Calgary Airport Spotters where one can learn a lot about what’s happening with Calgary’s landings and takeoff. Ask a question about a landing or takeoff and responses will be quick and accurate!
Often the parking lot is crammed with cars, and parents and children love to be there. A couple of kilometres from the viewing area is The Hangar Flight Museum where one can learn about western Canada’s aviation history. The museum promotes itself as “THE MUSEUM WITH ALTITUDE” and describes itself as Calgary’s hidden gem and a “must-see destination.”
No commercial 747 lands in Calgary but there are opportunities to see 747 carrying freight cargo landing at the Calgary airport. As already mentioned earlier, please visit Alex Praglowski Youtube page. I am delighted to include one of his YouTube videos of a 747 takeoff at the bottom of this post
Calgary, the city I have come to love, as I have found out, is an ideal place for plane sightings in many locations around the city in addition to Edward H. Laborde that I mentioned earlier. I have been to (1) a small parking across from Wingfield gold course, at the junction of 64 Av and 48 Av NE; (2) the area around Country Hills and 25 St NE, and (3) climbed the small hill at Prairie Hills Park and watched huge undercarriages of planes a few hundred metres above where I was standing.
I have loved planes all my life, and especially the Boeing 747, and will continue, like a little child, to get thrills from watching them from close range at airports. For my love of 747, I hope I get a job, for 1 day, to see the inside of a cargo 747 at the Calgary airport. That would be a dream fulfilled!
Date posted: January 29, 2023.
Last updated: January 31, 2023 (08:15 EST, typos.)
While finalizing this post, I came across the following news stories about the Boeing 747 that will be of interest to readers:
- Seattle Times: Boeing workers reflect on an iconic plane like no other
- The Globe and Mail: Boeing’s 747, the original jumbo jet, prepares for final send-off
Before departing this website, please review our Home Page for links to our fantastic photo essays. We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears below. Please share this article link with your friends and family members. Please also visit this blog’s sister websites Simerg for Insights from Around the World and Barakah for pieces on His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat. To reach the editor, please write to Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What a great and informative read! I’ve never been to Calgary, but really enjoyed the pictures of aircraft’s landing and taking off! Not to mention kudos to Nurin for the epic pictures over the Rockies (which I also look forward to seeing one day)!
Excellent article Malik. Your love for the 747 is shining through it.