First Boeing 747 ever built being restored to former glory

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First 747 to take flight

SEATTLE — Parked outside the Museum of Flight is the very first 747 jumbo jet to take flight in 1969.

The jet changed the face of civil aviation forever.  At one point, it was the largest commercial jet flying.

“The airplane had a lot of publicity and there was a great deal of conversation about it.  There were skeptics that said nothing that big can fly,” said Brien  Wygle, the co-pilot on the first test flight for the jet.

The plane took off from Paine Field in Everett in front of the world press.

“There was enormous pressures, Boeing had put a fortune into the airplane and it had gone well over budget. Pan Am was waiting for it,” Wygle said.

Its first flight lasted about an hour and a half.  They had a minor glitch and had to cut the flight short.  However, the aircraft had proven its worth.

"When we landed and taxied in and shut down, it was with great relief but also a great deal of elation and joy and satisfaction on where we were," Wygle said.

This particular jet stayed in service until the mid 90's as a test aircraft.  Its last mission was to test the engines that would later be installed on the Boeing 777.

Since 2012, a crew of volunteers have been working on restoring the aircraft to its former glory.  It has a brand new paint job and the interior is getting a makeover.

"It needed a lot of cosmetic work and needed a lot of work to try and represent, simulate some of the test environments the plane saw throughout its life," 747 Crew Chief Dennis Dhein said.

The museum hopes to have the plane complete and ready for folks to board sometime in late October.

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1 Comment

  • Marie-Christine Pinoul

    Being a French National I should be keen on Airbuses but my heart will always go the great 747. Why don’t you build one on the same principle as the A380 : 2 decks all along the fuselage.