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from Architectural Digest

How the Boeing 747 Changed the Way Airplanes Are Designed

On the anniversary of its first test flight in February 1969, AD looks back on how the “Queen of the Skies” became the most famous plane in the world

By Stefanie Waldek

If you ask Sir Norman Foster what his favorite building is, you’ll find that it’s not a building at all, but an airplane. And it’s not just any airplane, but the Boeing 747, the pinnacle of commercial aviation. “The fact that we call this an aeroplane rather than a building—or engineering rather than architecture—is really a historical hangover, because for me, much of what we have here is genuinely architectural both in its design and its thinking,” he once said in an episode of the BBC show Building Sights.

Known as the Queen of the Skies, the 747 revolutionized air travel when it made its commercial debut in 1970, allowing travelers to globe-trot farther than ever before, faster than ever before, and perhaps with more flair than ever before. And more than 50 years later, its design legacy lives on in contemporary aircraft—and in the hearts of aviation lovers around the world.

Between 1903 and 1939, aviation escalated from the Wright Brothers’ spruce plane to the very first jet, an astonishing engineering achievement. From there, commercial travel took off, entering the Golden Age of Flight, when passengers donned their finest suits and dresses to board a plane, then wined and dined on white tablecloths at cruising altitude. The era culminated in the largest, most impressive plane of them all: the 225-foot-long, 60-foot-tall 747, the world’s first jumbo jet.

“The main thing that really captured everybody’s attention and their imagination at the time that the airplane came out is its incredible size,” says Boeing’s senior corporate historian Michael J. Lombardi. “When you put it next to the 707, which was the biggest jetliner of its time in the 1960s, the 747 is twice the size.”

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Posted on November 7, 2021 by Editor

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