Bittersweet farewell to the ‘Queen of Skies’
United celebrated the retirement of the Boeing 747
San Francisco, November 7, 2017: United Airlines celebrated the retirement of the Boeing 747 with the recreation of the airline’s first 747 flight from San Francisco to Honolulu on July 23, 1970. Flight UA747 departed to Honolulu with more than 300 customers, employees and distinguished guests onboard. “The iconic 747 is a remarkably special aircraft that signaled a new era of air travel and was equally recognizable and beloved by our customers and crew alike,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United. “While today is bittersweet, we’ll continue to honor the Queen of the Skies’ game-changing legacy of connecting people and uniting the world with our next-generation of long-haul aircraft.”
Upon landing in Honolulu, local employees welcomed the aircraft with final festivities to close out the historic day, including remarks from United leaders and Hawaii State Representative Henry J.C. Aquino.
United 747s wrote history several times: On January 29-30, 1988, Friendship One, a Boeing 747SP, set a new around-the-world air speed record of 36 hours, 54 minutes, and 15 seconds. This special flight raised $500,000 for children’s charities through the Friendship Foundation. Tickets cost a minimum of $5,000. Special guest passengers included astronaut and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, famed test pilots Bob Hoover and Lieutenant General Laurence C. Craigie, and Moya Lear, the widow of Lear Jet founder Bill Lear.
In September 1996, a 747SP previously flown by United, was transformed into NASA’s/DLR’s SOFIA, a Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, which carries a 17-ton, 8-foot-wide infrared telescope mounted behind an enormous sliding door.
During October 2017 United employees got a chance to say goodbye to the 747 when the aircraft went on a farewell tour with stops at each of the carrier’s U.S. hubs.
Source: United Airlines