The History:


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    Red Stars at Le Bourget
    Monday, Jun. 07, 1971

    Aleksandr Yakovlev, a chief Soviet aviation designer, flashed a wide smile and waved his arm at the line-up of Russian commercial aircraft. "You have never seen anything like this," he said. In the cold, professional judgment of Western aviation experts at the Paris Air Show last week, Yakovlev was right. The Russians were stealing the show.

    Soviet aerospace exhibits have not gone unnoticed at previous Paris shows. A prime attraction of the 1965 exhibition was the AN-22 turboprop, the world's biggest aircraft at the time. In 1967, the gigantic display of Russian spacecraft dwarfed even the U.S. space exhibit. But this year the Soviets outdid themselves with the most dazzling collection of commercial planes they have ever brought to Paris. Among their showstoppers on the tarmac at Le Bourget Airport:

    >The TU-144 supersonic transport, which, after a leisurely subsonic flight from Prague, touched down with its 26 tires threadbare from many high-speed landings. Though the Russian SST made its first test flight more than two years ago, it had not been previously exhibited for Westerners. It quickly became the star of the Paris show.

    >The MIL-12 helicopter, a giant thrashing machine capable of lifting more than 44 tons or transporting 200 passengers. During French Premier Pompidou's opening speech, only a few officials on the speakers' platform appeared to be listening. Everyone else was gawking at the MIL-12 as it was towed gently into position next to the droop-nosed Russian SST.

    >The fan-jet-engined IL-76, billed as a wide-bodied commercial transport and dressed up in blue-and-white Aeroflot markings, but actually a military support ship.

    >A "stretched" model of the familiar IL-62, the jet now used on Aeroflot's Moscow-New York run. In its new lengthened version, the IL-62 could be a hot competitor for the U.S. super DC-8.

    With an unprecedented array of salable airpower, four acres of choice display space at Le Bourget and phalanxes of salesmen in attendance, the Soviets were clearly ready for business. That is a departure from their traditional posture at the biennial show, which they have regarded in the past as merely a showcase for their new technology. This year could be different. With the U.S. out of the SST race and having trouble with the Lockheed L-1011 airbus, the Russians may finally be in a position to take advantage of their growing potential in commercial aircraft sales.

    Russian commercial planes already fill the skies of East bloc countries, but aircraft sales to the West have been negligible. The government of Colombia was offered five YAK-40s (small, 40-passenger trijets that are modern counterparts of the old DC-3s) at a bargain price of $750,000 each with a ten-year, 3% line of credit. But when the U.S. State Department this spring announced that it would not allow the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the plane as meeting U.S. safety and performance standards, the Colombians backed out of the deal. Several aviation experts suggest that the U.S. may have been motivated more by politics than by considerations of safety; the YAK-40 has proved a reliable performer in the East. "The YAK-40 now flies everywhere in Russia, everywhere—little fields, big fields, concrete or grass, dirt or tundra," Designer Yakovlev told TIME Correspondent Jerry Hannifin.

    Prestige v. Profits. Some aircraft executives at the Paris show doubted that many Soviet SSTs will be sold in the West, even though a number of airlines are closely studying the TU-144's specifications. Aside from the uncertainty of depending on the Russians for parts and service, there is a belief among aeronautical engineers that the Anglo-French Concorde is a more sophisticated machine.

    The Concorde was also on display at Le Bourget, after flying 3,220 miles from Dakar to Toulouse in just under 2½ hours, giving the experts a unique opportunity to compare the two transports. Some said that the TU-144 was cleaner and quieter than the Concorde, perhaps even quiet enough to meet stringent new U.S. noise standards. Others who had studied year-old photographs of the TU-144 noted that the Russians had lengthened air inlets on the four giant engines and sharpened edges on the inlets, apparently in an attempt to improve fuel economy. Perhaps even more important than operating costs, however, the real competition between the TU-144 and the Concorde will be in the purchase price. Here the Russians may have an edge. The Concorde is expected to sell for around $25 million. If the Russians decide that prestige outweighs profits, they will almost certainly price the TU-144 low enough to ensure that Russian supersonic aircraft win a place in the commercial air fleets of the West.


    Alaska Airlines To Serve A Fourth Russian City; And More Flights Planned For Current Destinations
    Business Wire, March 13, 1995

    SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 13, 1995--Alaska Airlines plans to begin scheduled passenger service to a fourth Russian Far East city -- Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski -- on June 10.

    Alaska will fly to the port city of 200,000 once per week using 140-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. Service will be nonstop from Anchorage and same-plane one-stop from Seattle.

    Flights will depart the U.S. on Saturdays and arrive on Sundays. Return flights depart on Saturdays and arrive on Fridays, gaining a day crossing the international dateline.

    Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula and has a population of 200,000. It is a major fishing port and is home to a navy submarine base and an air force base.

    "Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski and the entire peninsula are emerging as important centers for tourism and commercial development in the Russian Far East," said Dave Palmer, assistant vice president/marketing. "Because of its natural beauty and abundant wildlife, outdoor recreation and adventure is the prime draw for tourists."

    Alaska currently serves the Russian Far East cities of Magadan, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok with one round-trip flight per week from Anchorage. Service there will be increased to two flights per week on May 7.

    Alaska Airlines, which initiated Russian Far East service in 1991, serves 43 cities in Alaska, Mexico, Russia and five Western states.

    For more information contact the Alaska Airlines reservations office (1-800/426-0333) or your travel agent.

    CONTACT: Alaska Airlines

    Greg Witter, 206/431-3799


    Russia and U.S. collaborate to produce new passenger plane - Ilyushin IL-96M
    Business America, Nov, 1994

    As part of its ongoing effort to promote American trade and investment with Russia, the U.S. Department of Commerce, in one of the finest examples of U.S.-Russian aerospace collaboration, highlighted the arrival of the Ilyushin IL-96M commercial passenger aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base in Suitland, Md., November 7.

    The Russian-built IL-96M wide-body prototype incorporates 60-80 percent U.S. content featuring Pratt & Whitney engines, Rockwell Collins avionics, and components from 14 other U.S. aerospace manufacturers. When in full production, U.S. exports for each aircraft could total as much as $40-$50 million representing 2,500 high-tech jobs in at least nine U.S. states. The combination of Russian and American content will open new markets to U.S. aerospace companies while generating hard currency from Russian manufacturers. The Ilyushin IL-96M aircraft also reflects both countries' move away from military to civilian production as part of defense conversion.

    "This historic partnership between Russian and U.S. aerospace companies is but one example of this Administration's commitment to creating new market opportunity for both U.S. and Russian industry ...," said Deputy Secretary of Commerce David J. Barram during opening remarks at the ceremony.

    According to Commerce Department estimates, the former Soviet market will require 2,000 new aircraft for domestic service and 250 aircraft for international routes during the next 18 years--creating vast opportunities for U.S. suppliers of aircraft, aircraft engines, avionics systems, navigation equipment, and other components. The IL-96M, a four-engine aircraft which seats up to 386 passengers, has a maximum range of 7,146 miles and is designed for service on medium-to-long range routes. The aircraft has already been awarded 40 orders or letters of intent to order from four international customers. The first production IL-96M is scheduled to fly in December 1995, with deliveries to customers in 1996.

    The airplane was part of a "Trade Visit of Russian Aerospace Officials to the United States" program organized by the Commerce Department and sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Participants included Russian Committee for Defense Industries Chairman Victor Glukhikh, who led the Russian delegation of 20 senior aerospace government and industry representatives. They were joined by U.S. Government and aerospace industry officials. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also cooperated in the event.

    The trade visit is one of many activities of the U.S.-Russia Business Development Committee, co-chaired by Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and Russian Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov.


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    COMPANY NEWS; Pan Am, Aeroflot Plan Joint Venture
    COMPANY NEWS; Pan Am, Aeroflot Plan Joint Venture
    By The Associated Press
    Published: October 03, 1987

    Pan American World Airways Inc. and Aeroflot, the Soviet Union's national airline, have entered an agreement to begin jointly operating nonstop flights between New York and Moscow. The agreement, which is subject to approval by the United States and Soviet Governments, would take effect on May 15, 1988, and begin with three round trips a week.

    Under terms of the accord, Pan Am and Aeroflot will jointly operate the nonstop flights using Pan Am Boeing 747 aircraft staffed by Pan Am cockpit and flight-service crews. Aeroflot has the option of placing up to three of its flight attendants aboard the flights to serve as language interpreters and ''to provide Aeroflot on-board identification,'' Pan Am said.
    Pan Am Joins Aeroflot In Joint Venture
    Pan Am Joins Aeroflot In Joint Venture
    March 06, 1988|By New York Times News Service.

    Pan American Airlines and Aeroflot have agreed to jointly operate what the airlines say are the first nonstop flights between the United States and the Soviet Union.

    The flights, due to begin May 15, will connect New York`s Kennedy International Airport and Moscow.

    The two airlines will share operation of a Pan Am Boeing 747, which will make the roundtrip three times a week in the summer, twice weekly in fall and spring and once a week in the winter.
    THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Offering 'Perestroika Perks,' Aeroflot Beckons U.S. Fliers
    THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Offering 'Perestroika Perks,' Aeroflot Beckons U.S. Fliers
    Published: September 05, 1989

    Aeroflot, the Soviet national airline, will begin a most American advertising campaign today, appealing directly to business travelers from the United States.

    The ads promote Aeroflot's business-class and first-class service on its flights from New York and Washington to Moscow. They urge Americans to collect ''perestroika perks'': complimentary flights to Kiev and Leningrad for passengers to Moscow, chauffeured cars to hotels, free nights at a Moscow hotel and a ''Mont Blanc pen to sign your deal with the Russians.'' Radio commercials unabashedly exploit warming international relations, reminding potential travelers that ''after all, you've got a personal invitation from Mr. Gorbachev himself.''

    ''We've discovered the American marketing concept,'' said George Terentiev, commercial manager for Aeroflot in the United States.

    But Aeroflot has many obstacles to overcome, including a reputation for uninspired service. Like the Soviet Government itself, Aeroflot is struggling to reverse years of bureaucratic inertia and indifference toward consumers. For instance, Aeroflot only last spring opened a toll-free reservation number for passengers.

    ''Before, you couldn't communicate with us,'' said Mr. Terentiev, a former water-polo player who has an office in the Pan Am Building in midtown Manhattan. Campaign Begins Today

    ''They're really going to have to put on a Western-style campaign to win the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of Western business travelers,'' said Michael Billig, editor of Business Travel Management, a magazine for corporate travel managers. ''Executives feel better flying an American airline than one that is semi-shrouded in secrecy,'' he added, a reference to Aeroflot practices like not reporting crash statistics in the Soviet Union.

    The campaign, which begins this morning on radio station WINS-AM in New York City and will appear in national publications this month, is part of a marketing plan intended to generate desperately needed hard currency. Aeroflot has already run advertisements in trade magazines in an effort to reach travel agents, many of whom remain ignorant about the airline, the world's largest.

    Aeroflot, with roughly 140 international destinations, is a highly visible symbol of the progress of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's reforms, and the Soviet leader has taken a special interest in revamping the airline. ''Aeroflot is on the cutting edge of glasnost and perestroika,'' said John P. McCaffrey, vice president of industry affairs for the Pan Am Corporation.

    Last year, Pan Am and Aeroflot began joint flights from New York to Moscow. Using Pan Am Boeing 747's staffed with Soviet and American flight attendants, the airlines each sell half the seats. Aeroflot resumed its own flights to the United States in 1986, after a three-year ban imposed by the United States after a Soviet fighter plane shot down a Korean Air Lines 747, killing 240. The United States had previously imposed sanctions against the airline after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 and the Soviet-backed imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981. A $1 Million Effort

    Aeroflot has hired the Middlebrook Group, a marketing company based in Wilton, Conn., and Kelley Swofford Advertising, an ad agency based in Miami, as well as Jeanne Westphal Associates, a Miami public relations firm. Officials at Aeroflot declined to disclose the size of the advertising campaign, but conceded that its overall marketing effort would cost more than $1 million this year, up from a negligible amount in 1988.

    A large portion of Aeroflot's advertising budget is aimed at travel agents. ''The biggest problem with Aeroflot is that we know very little about them,'' said Phil Davidoff, president-elect of the American Society of Travel Agents.

    Although the airline recently opened a toll-free number exclusively for travel agents, they are still unable to issue tickets directly for Aeroflot flights. But the airline hopes to join a large computer reservation system soon that would give it considerably more influence with agents. Round-Trip Ticket Costs

    Round-trip, economy-class tickets from New York to Moscow cost $1,085 if purchased 21 days in advance. The business-class fare is $2,685, and first-class travel runs $4,365 - more than the average annual per-capita income of Soviet citizens. These fares are equivalent to the undiscounted fares of other large airlines and are sometimes discounted.

    One problem that Aeroflot faces that no amount of advertising can gloss over is its fleet of planes, which are noisier and burn more fuel than those built by Western manufacturers. Its 132-seat Ilyushin-62 aircraft must make a refueling stop at Gander, Newfoundland, en route to Moscow.

    A new generation of aircraft that are closer to Western standards is being developed, and one plane scheduled to enter service in 1992 is expected to fly nonstop from New York to Moscow. Meanwhile, the airline is revamping the interiors of its planes that fly trans-Atlantic routes. And in the hopes of attracting more Western travelers, Aeroflot is considering leasing a Boeing 747, Mr. Terentiev said - either in a joint arrangement with Pan Am or on its own. Meeting With Boeing This Week

    Aeroflot executives will be meeting in Moscow this week with representatives of the Boeing Company to discuss possible lease arrangements, said a recently retired Boeing executive who was involved in earlier negotiations.

    Last year Boeing sold two 767's to LOT, the Polish airline - the first time an American manufacturer had sold an airliner to a Communist bloc nation.

    Another concern of American travelers is Aeroflot's safety record, which, for its domestic flights at least, remains a mystery. The airline does not ordinarily report such statistics.

    Aeroflot also has to overcome its reputation for poor service. ''They've been a monopoly since their inception, and their service reflects that,'' said Gary Burandt, chairman of Young & Rubicam/Sobero, a joint venture based in Moscow. Earlier this year, Aeroflot signed a contract with the Marriott Corporation's in-flight catering service to help improve its food service. 60% Rise in Number of Seats With the growing demand for travel between the two countries, Aeroflot has increased its number of seats 60 percent over the last year and now flies from New York and Washington to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport up to eight times a week. The number of passengers flying the airline jumped from 25,000 in 1987 to 40,000 last year. Mr. Terentiev said that he expects that number will reach 80,000 this year.

    Still, Aeroflot can claim less than 10 percent of the Soviet-American market. Most business travelers prefer to fly to Moscow on one of the 13 other airlines with routes there, through cities like London or Frankfurt.

    And although many Aeroflot flights leave full, the majority of the seats are filled by Soviet passengers. In order to pay for fuel and landing fees here, the airline desperately needs to earn dollars. ''Aeroflot can sell every seat with Soviet passengers,'' said William Roy, managing partner of the Middlebrook Group. ''But they need to balance that with people paying hard dollars.''

    About 125,000 Americans visited the Soviet Union last year, up from 110,000 in 1987 and 25,000 in 1980, when relations between the two countries soured after the invasion of Afghanistan. With joint ventures between the countries now feasible, Aeroflot hopes that its share of American business travelers will increase. The airline wants to start flying to Los Angeles, which has a large Armenian population. Shortage of Moscow Hotel Rooms

    But Aeroflot can only grow as fast as the hotel space in Moscow allows. A shortage of hotel rooms has existed for years, and even booking a room three or four weeks in advance can be difficult.
    Aeroflot Sets Its 1st Chicago-to-russia Flights
    Aeroflot Sets Its 1st Chicago-to-russia Flights
    March 26, 1992|By Stanley Ziemba.

    The Russians are coming to O`Hare.

    Aeroflot, the international airline of the Commonwealth of Independent States, formerly the Soviet Union, is planning to begin twice-weekly round-trip flights between Chicago`s O`Hare International Airport and Moscow.

    The flights, which will operate on Mondays and Fridays, are scheduled to begin May 15.

    ``The new service will represent the fastest and most convenient way to fly to Moscow from Chicago,`` said a U.S. spokesman for Aeroflot. ``Currently, other carriers require Moscow-bound passengers to stay one night in one of their European hubs before going on to Moscow, or they`ll require passengers to at least change aircraft en route, extending their flight time by several hours.``

    In addition to providing service to Moscow, the Aeroflot flights will give Chicago its first look at a Russian-made commercial airplane. The airline plans to use one of its four-engine, 132-seat Ilyushin-62M jets on the Chicago-Moscow route.

    The new flights to Chicago are part of a major expansion of service by Aeroflot to the U.S. The carrier plans to increase its flights to the U.S. this year to 29 a week from 8 a week just three years ago.

    In addition to Chicago, Aeroflot will be providing service this year for the first time from San Francisco and Anchorage to Moscow and other commonwealth cities. The airline already provides service to the commonwealth from New York, Washington and Miami.

    In terms of passengers flown annually, Aeroflot is the world`s largest airline. However, because it had until recently operated in a closed and tightly controlled economic system, it was often ignored by airline industry insiders and observers in the West who rank carriers by size.

    Aeroflot`s flights from Chicago are scheduled to depart at 2:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays and arrive in Moscow at 11:40 a.m. the following day. The return flights to Chicago from Moscow`s Sheremetyevo Airport are to leave at 7:40 a.m. Mondays and Fridays and arrive in Chicago at 1 p.m. the same day.

    All the flights will make an intermediate stop in Shannon, Ireland, according to Aeroflot officials.

    Other cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States that will be accessible through Aeroflot as a result of its new U.S.-to-Moscow flights are St. Petersburg in Russia, Kiev in Ukraine and Khabarovsk in Russia`s far eastern region.

    Aeroflot passengers between Moscow and Chicago will have a choice of first class or economy seating, according to the carrier.

    In addition, it plans to offer a choice of American, Russian or Continental cuisine for its in-flight meals, which are to be catered by Marriott Corp. Liquor service, including Russian champagne, brandy and vodka, is to be available.
    Aeroflot, Continental agreement: Russian flag carrier...
    Aeroflot, Continental agreement: Russian flag carrier...
    January 15, 1997

    Aeroflot, Continental agreement: Russian flag carrier Aeroflot and Continental Airlines Inc. have signed a five-year deal to operate Moscow-New York flights and coordinate their schedules, reservations and tariffs, Aeroflot said. Aeroflot also said that both airlines agreed to use the new Russian-made Ilyushin Il-96M airliner, powered by U.S. engines and avionics, on joint operation routes. The Moscow-based carrier said a new jointly operated daily flight will start this fall between Moscow and Newark Airport.
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    World First Supersonic Aircraft Tu-144
    The 1960s. The leading aircraft building countries start their race in creation of a supersonic passenger aircraft. The Soviet Union was one of the participants of this race, by 1969 its supersonic aircraft Tu-144 performed its first flight. It was the first supersonic passenger aircraft that flew high in the sky. Only two months later it was followed by the Franco-British aircraft “Concorde”. What was happening later was not so good for the Soviet vehicle, though. Its destiny was full of dramas and tragedies.

    Tu-144 was the world first aircraft that overcame sound velocity in the beginning of June, 1969 being eleven kilometres high over the ground. The second velocity of sound was taken in the middle of 1970 – the Tu-144 was flying at the height of 16.3 km. This vehicle involved many technical and design innovations such as a horizontal canard. While Tu-144 could land in about twenty airports, “Concorde” aircraft could land only in one certified airport. Constructors of the Tupolev design bureau did a great job. Thus, the wings of the new aircraft were tested on the flying laboratory – specially remodified MiG-21I aircraft.

    In 1973 the Soviet Tu-144 crashed in Le Bourget and all the crew died. There were many versions explaining why it happened but today the most probably of them says that the pilots tried to use the new experimental equipment for automatic flight control to perform a complicated maneuver. However it’s known that it was not the fault of the crew. That accident affected the reputation of the aircraft but its development continued and soon it started to be used for passenger transportation. However the plane was not used for long, cause it was rather expensive – they flew half empty because people could rarely afford to buy tickets.

    The plane broke some world records when was used in various flight tests. During one of such test flights in May 1978 there happened another catastrophe. It was the modified Tu-144D to perform the crash landing on the field. The reason was destruction of the fuel supply line which caused fuel ignition in the plane. Two flight engineers died, others managed to leave the plane through windows and the front door.

    1995-99. Tu-144D, tail number 77114, was used by NASA as a flying laboratory for creation of an American supersonic aircraft for passenger transportation.

    Built in general — 20.
    Flying today — 0.
    Never flied — 3.
    Preserved — 7.
    Crashed — 2.
    Scrapped — 8.

    Year 2000.
    to see the pictures
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    Do you have a pen? Astronauts fill out US Customs forms, too!
    January 10th, 2014
    Just before your flight lands back in your home country from traveling abroad you’re usually asking a flight attendant for a pen to fill out that slew of annoying forms and documents for customs and immigration.
    But, can you believe that Astronauts returning to the United States from NASA missions have to fill one out too? Imagine listing your departure city as “The Moon.”
    The National Airline Policy’s Facebook page just posted a photo of the document which was processed in Honolulu, HI after Apollo 11 and signed by the crew. Airline crew members will recognize this as the crew member general declaration form, the crewmember version of the US Customs Forms. It’s an interesting read. Check it out.



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    JFK Furious Over PanAm Concorde Order In Declassified Phone Calls
    By Jason Rabinowitz / Published January 9, 2014

    In the 1960s, everything seemed to be a race. Not only did President John F. Kennedy want to be the first country to the moon, but he wanted to be the first country in the world with a supersonic transport solution. In a recently declassified phone call with Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon, the President expresses his utter outrage when he discovers that Pan Am’s Juan Trippe placed order options for the French and British made Concorde just days before the United States was to announce its own supersonic aircraft project- something Trippe knew in advance.

    The June 4, 1963 call starts off with JFK asking the Secretary of the Treasury “have you seen what Juan Trippe did,” adding “how could he do that when he knew we were about to go ahead?” JFK was extremely angry at Trippe for potentially compromising the American program, announced a mere two days later.

    JFK seemed to be at a loss of words as to why Trippe ordered the Concorde. “I mean, didn’t we have any understanding with him that he wouldn’t go ahead while we were trying to come up with our proposal?” Throughout the call, JFK expressed his rage about the order, considering asking Trippe to print a retraction of the order. “I think that he ought to retract that thing,” JFK said. “I think that you ought to call him up, Doug, and say that we’re [expletive] sore about this. He knew the United States . . . my God, I had it in my speech for tomorrow.”

    JFK believed that an order from Pan Am for the Concorde could potentially doom the still unannounced American SST program. “[this order] involves hundreds of millions of dollars in balance of payments, which is going to sabotage a program to put the United States up in the lead in the 70s.”

    Throughout the phone call, JFK vents his rage to the Secretary of the Treasury, stating numerous times how he feels about Pan Am after hearing of the Concorde news. “If he is so indifferent to what the United States Government is doing, I think, Doug, you ought to call up and stick it right up his ass. I want him to eat that today, because otherwise we can’t possibly go ahead….And I’m really . . .going to spend our time screwing Pan Am.”

    When all was said and done, the Boeing 2707 supersonic jet never entered service. Rising and unjustifiable costs eventually lead to the cancellation of the program in 1973. As for Pan Am, they never actually took delivery of the Concorde. The airline cancelled their order in 1973, the same year the Boeing 2707 project was cancelled. In fact, Pan Am ordered 15 Boeing 2707′s, more than any other airline.
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    16 Little Known Facts About The Boeing 747
    1) The Boeing 747 first flew in February 1969, just five months before Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

    2) The 747 was the first widebody aircraft ever produced, meaning it had two aisles in aircraft cabin.

    3) Pan Am's founder, Juan Trippe, pushed Boeing to build a jet that was more than twice as big as the 707. At the time, airport traffic was becoming congested, and fewer, large aircraft would help Pan Am operate more efficiently.

    4) The 747 was over 2.5 times larger than the Boeing 707, which was one of the most common commercial aircraft at the time.

    5) One of the main reasons the upper deck was designed was to allow the 747 to be easily converted into a cargo aircraft. At the time, designers thought supersonic transports would quickly make the 747 obsolete, and its role as a cargo aircraft was essential.

    6) The original 747 design had the upper deck running the entire length of the fuselage, but because the plane couldn't safely be evacuated in the FAA mandated 90 seconds, the idea was thrown out.

    7) Complex high-lift devices were used so the 747 could operate out of existing airports. Leading edge slats and three-part fowler flaps increase the wing area by 21%, and increase lift by up to 90%

    8) Boeing didn't have a facility large enough to build the 747, so they had to construct a new assembly plant in Everett, WA. The project timeline was so aggressive that the first 747 mockup was built before the building's roof was finished. The plant is still the largest building by volume in the world.

    9) Early models of the 747 had a high-speed flutter problem in the wings. Engineers solved the problem by placing depleted uranium counterweights in the outboard engine nacelles.

    10) The project was so expensive that Boeing struggled to get the loans to complete the project. Boeing had over $2 billion in debt - the most for any company at the time.

    11) Development of the 747-400 began in 1985. With a new glass cockpit, the crew requirement was reduced from three to two pilots.

    12) The 747 has a wing sweep of 37.5 degrees - more than any other commercial aircraft in the world.

    13) The Evergreen 747 Supertanker, a modified 742-200, is the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world. It can hold up to 20,000 gallons of firefighting chemicals.

    14) Since 1969, 1,494 747s have been built.

    15) NASA chose the 747 to haul its space shuttles over the C-5 Galaxy for two reasons. 1) The low wing design made it easy to mount the shuttle, and 2) NASA could own the 747s, while they couldn't own an Air Force C-5.

    16) With it's iconic hump, the 747 has become one of the most popular and recognizable aircraft in the world. And it's safe to say its earned its nickname of "Queen of the Skies".