These are a few of my favorite Queens

“Noses that open and high bypass engines

Big upper decks you could practically live in

They start just like emeralds, the brightest of greens

These are a few of my favorite Queens”

The Boeing 747 changed the world the second the very first airplane lifted off the runway at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, on Feb. 9, 1969. Many people doubted that an airplane two-and-a-half times the size of the 707 could even fly. Little did they know…

I was fortunate to attend the rollout of the last 747 (L/N 1574) earlier this month, and a week-and-a-half later I made it up to PAE just in the nick of time to see her first flight. Soon she’ll return to Seattle with a shiny new coat of paint, before being delivered to Atlas Air early next year. I’m grateful to be supporting the delivery event, but am quite honestly dreading the moment I wave goodbye to that big, beautiful bird. 

Many of you know I meticulously track the airplanes I photograph — each one is tagged with the registration, airline, manufacturer, model, variant and airport. It takes time, but it is well worth it to me. As the 747 program comes to a close, I started to think about the many Jumbo Jets I’ve spotted over the past several years. I did a little digging and discovered I’ve shot 132 of the 1,574 747s produced (roughly 8%). Those airplanes represent 35 different airlines, with Atlas, China Airlines Cargo and Kalitta Air as the top three, with 17, 13 and 10 airframes photographed, respectively.

I’ve of course seen some of these airplanes multiple times, and all in all, I have roughly 3,500 photos of 747s in my collection. With that, I decided to celebrate and honor this remarkable airplane program by choosing some favorites to share with all of you. Of the 20 airplanes in these photos, one was written off, one was scrapped, three are in storage and seven now wear different liveries. Please know that some of these photos were taken when I was just getting started as a plane spotter, so I kindly ask that you forgive the poor quality.

Long live the Queen.

Click photos to view larger.

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