A feeling of sadness filled me as I read the news report. I understand that projects cannot continue forever, but reading the article generated a note of depression and brought hundreds of memories to mind. Since Boeing was the first major company I worked for, and where I gained much knowledge I would use in other vocations, I've been a "Boeing person" all my adult life.
But the Boeing 747, called the Queen of the Skies and was the first plane to be called a Jumbo Jet, will no longer be manufactured. The last 747 to be built, a 747-8F cargo version, will be delivered to Atlas Air Company in October of 2022.
I was one of the 50,000 administrators, secretaries, designers, engineers, tool-builders, construction workers and mechanics who made aviation history by building the 747, the largest civilian aircraft in the world. I didn't know until years later that we were called "The Incredibles."
The Boeing company's home offices are in Chicago, but for years its assembly factories were in four cities. One plant was in Wichita, Kan., and three plants were in Washington, at Everett, Renton and Seattle.
Wichita produced the B-29 Superfortress, B-47 Stratojet and the B-52 Stratofortress. The Boeing 727 was built in Renton, the 737 was built in Seattle and the 747 was built in Everett. The first version, the 747-100, could carry 238 passengers, but the largest 747-800 with an elongated upper deck could hold 467 people.
The plane is huge, and I was awestruck as I watched the first flight of the 735-ton plane on Feb. 9, 1969.
To build vehicles, including jet planes, we need tools on which to make the parts. I was hired in November of 1966, three months after Carol and I were married, to work in the 747 tooling department. Aircraft tools range in size from a small box to a house. In order to produce the quality that Boeing required, our tooling tolerance was normally .020" -- that is 20 thousandths of an inch. I enjoyed the job and had the privilege of working for Boeing until June of 1970.
One day before I started my afternoon work shift, I heard the unmistakable roar of a large aircraft approaching the runway. I stopped and watched it come into view. I thought the pilot had lost his mind, because with a forward velocity of about 180 mph and the plane's nose pointing up in an unusual position, he brought the plane down at a steep angle and hit the runway hard! Bouncing 15-20 feet into the air, the pilot let it hit the runway again. Bouncing about 10 feet, the pilot gave the engines full-throttle, and the plane majestically lifted into the blue sky.
When I asked my supervisor if the pilot would be fired, he explained the situation. A highly trained test pilot was flying the plane, and one of the purposes was to test the strength of the wheels, struts and fuselage, and see if the plane could withstand semi-crash-landings. It passed all the tests thrown at it.
The 747 is more than 231 feet long, and over 195 feet wide from wing-tip to wing-tip. I find it interesting that the Wright Brother's first flight was only 120 feet long.
Nations around the world bought the plane. China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines wanted the larger versions to hold more people. However, Pan Am eventually became the largest operator of the Boeing 747 aircraft, having bought and rented a total of 47 of them, including several passenger versions. By October of 2022, Boeing will have built 1,573 of the 747s, and brought the 54-year Queen of the Skies program to an end.
As I mentioned, human projects cannot continue forever, but the program Jesus started will. I joined that program, called Christianity, 70 years ago and I'll never stop being a "Jesus person."
Unlike the 747 program, Jesus doesn't make new models or improved versions, but He does enable us to become more efficient as we grow. However, similar to the 747s, God does take us through many series of tests. That's because He doesn't want to retire us to the junk yard; He plans on employing us for eternity and we have a lot to learn.
Aircraft are limited to the lower atmosphere, but at my final delivery to heaven, God will allow me to travel throughout the universe.
There's no sadness or depression with Jesus, but joy and peace reigns in heaven forever.
-- S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor, and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.