It has now been 52 years since Pan American World Airways introduced the Boeing 747 to the world. After over five decades of action, the Queen of the Skies is still a favorite among many members of the aviation community despite it becoming a rarity at commercial airports.
The launch customer
Clipper Young America was supposed to be the first to fly with the airline. This production took on several nicknames during its service life, including Constitution, Washington, Moscow Express, and Pride of the Sea.
Like the first 747-100 delivery just over a month earlier, the first commercial flight didn’t go exactly according to plan. In the first instance, the 747 training base in Roswell, New Mexico, failed an evacuation exercise on January 15th.
As a result, problems with emergency lighting and deployment of the slides arose. Boeing then had to address the issues, and a successful 747 evacuation was finally conducted on January 21st, the same day that the plane was set to be deployed.
A short but significant delay
Registration N735PA was pushed back in New York at 19:30 that day. However, an issue with the number four engine caused the aircraft to return to the gate for inspection, and those on board had to exit.
Clipper Victor then jumped in and took off at 01:52 on January 22nd. It transported 335 passengers and 20 crew members across the Atlantic Ocean from New York JFK to London Heathrow.
Pan Am quickly reaped the benefits of operations with the widebody within the month of launching 747 service. The company considered a 40% load factor mark to be the break-even point, and it was exceeding this figure.
“In its first four weeks in passenger service, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet carried considerably more passengers than needed to make a profit, Pan American World Airways indicated,” The New York Times reported In February 1970.
“A spokesman for the airline which introduced the 362‐seat jet into commercial service, said that its 747 flights between New York and London averaged 61 percent full, and those between New York and San Juan, P. R., 86 percent.”
Thông báo lưu trú: Đăng ký cho các bản tin hàng không hàng ngày và hàng tuần của chúng tôi.
A lasting impact
The type paved the way for a new chapter for airlines. For many travelers, their first time on a plane was with a 747, more precisely on a Pan Am 747. The model made flying more affordable for numerous passenger segments and would go on to become closely associated with Pan Am when looking back.
However, in reality, the era of the Pan Am 747 only lasted two decades. The legacy carrier ceased operations in the early 1990s following years of operational and financial struggles.
The 747’s life is also coming to an end, with the last aircraft set to be delivered this year. Regardless, similar to Pan Am, the jumbo will be remembered for revolutionizing US commercial aviation in the 20th century.
What are your thoughts about Pan American’s first Boeing 747 flight? What do you make of the history between the airline and the jumbo? Let us know what you think in the comment section.