Jumbo jet pilot’s incredible pictures of the iconic ‘Queen of the Skies’ show just why ‘there will never be another plane like her’
- Boeing 747-400 Captain Christiaan van Heijst, from the Netherlands, has paid tribute to the Boeing 747
- The final 747 – commissioned by Atlas Air Worldwide airfreight company – was delivered by Boeing last month
- READ MORE: Fly in a BA lie-flat seat to EUROPE for 50p (plus points)
It’s a spectacular way to mark the end of an era.
Pilot Christiaan van Heijst, a Boeing 747-400 Captain from the Netherlands, has paid tribute to the end of the production of the Boeing 747 by sharing stunning pictures of the jumbo jet that he has captured over the years.
More than 50 years after the first model rolled onto the tarmac, Boeing’s final 747 – commissioned by Atlas Air Worldwide airfreight company to serve in its cargo fleet – was delivered last month.
It was the 1,574th Boeing 747 built by Boeing since the 1960s, and though there will be no 1,575th, it is likely the resilient aircraft – long-dubbed the ‘Queen of the Skies’ – will remain in the clouds for many years to come.
Some of the 38-year-old pilot’s pictures show the flight deck of a Boeing 747 while flying all around the world, while other pictures were taken at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Alaska, which serves as a fuel station for most trans-Pacific cargo flights between Asia and the United States.
Pilot Christiaan van Heijst has shared his stunning pictures of the Boeing 747 – one of which is above – to pay tribute to the jet model, which is no longer in production
A Boeing 747 leaves a contrail in her wake in this striking shot by the pilot photographer. Boeing’s final 747 was delivered last month
Discussing his experience as a Boeing 747-400 Captain, he says: ‘I have been flying the Boeing 747 for over twelve years now and it has been the pinnacle of my flying career so far.
‘The aeroplane is not only iconic in size and appearance, it is also a pleasant machine to fly and work with from a pilot’s perspective. She handles nicely, is very reliable and features many redundant systems that make it a very trustworthy machine to work with.
‘The 747 has almost become part of my life by now, having spent so many years studying her systems and flying her across the globe.
‘With the last 747 having left the factory… I thought it was a fitting time to showcase a variety of shots that illustrate the Queen of the Skies in various settings and angles, including that of a pilot in flight.’
This mesmerising shot by Christiaan, captured in 2016, shows the Northern Lights, a sunrise and the Milky Way from the cockpit of the jumbo jet. It was taken over northern Russia during a night flight from Luxembourg to Komatsu, Japan
This incredible photograph was captured when the pilot ‘encountered a huge front of active thunderstorms’ in a 747
This fascinating photograph shows the cockpit of a 747-200 ‘classic’ model in Kinshasa, Congo, in 2011
A Boeing 747 in Anchorage, Alaska. Photographer Christiaan says that flying the 747 has been the ‘pinnacle’ of his flying career so far
A Cathay Pacific 747. ‘The aeroplane is not only iconic in size and appearance, it is also a pleasant machine to fly and work with from a pilot’s perspective,’ Christiaan reveals
The pilot continues: ‘The 747 has literally changed the world after she was introduced just over fifty years ago: ticket prices dropped significantly, allowing more and more people to fly long distances, thereby making the world a much smaller place.’
The jumbo jet is unrivalled in the world of aviation, Christiaan admits.
He says: ‘The 747 is also a beautiful machine in itself. Four powerful engines and her gracious fuselage with the iconic upper deck make it a plane that even the most ignorant person recognizes as the “Jumbo jet” or 747. She rightfully deserved the nickname “Queen of the Skies”. Typical for her impact on popular culture is the fact that nearly all movies of the last few decades featured a 747 whenever a large plane was needed.
‘Since then, no other aeroplane has even come close to the majestic presence of the 747 and I’m afraid there will never be an aeroplane even remotely similar like it.’
A full moon lights up the night sky in this transfixing picture, captured over Siberia in 2016
Christiaan turned his lens on a Boeing Dreamlifter in Anchorage for this shot
This epic photograph shows the view over England from a 747 cockpit
The view of the Atlantic Ocean is masterfully captured in this image by Christiaan
‘The 747 is a beautiful machine in itself,’ says Christiaan. Pictured left is the jumbo jet’s cockpit and to the right, a Boeing 747 is being loaded
Anchorage was the setting for this dynamic photograph. ‘I’m afraid there will never be an aeroplane even remotely similar like it,’ Christiaan says of the 747
This richly-coloured picture reveals the view from a Boeing 747 cockpit. Christiaan says that the 747 ‘literally changed the world’ when she was introduced in the 1960s
Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft.
It revolutionised travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratise passenger flight.
Boeing initially set out to build the 747 after losing a contract for a huge military transport, the C-5A.
Christiaan says that the jumbo jet rightfully deserved the nickname ‘Queen of the Skies’
Above is the view from a Boeing 747 cockpit. Boeing has built 1,574 models of the jumbo jet since the 1960s
‘The 747 has almost become part of my life by now, having spent so many years studying her systems and flying her across the globe,’ Christiaan reveals
Pictured are the controls of a Boeing 747
The idea was to take advantage of the new engines developed for the transport – high-bypass turbofan engines, which burned less fuel by passing air around the engine core, enabling a longer flight range – and to use them for a newly imagined civilian aircraft.
It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747 – a Herculean effort that earned them the nickname, ‘The Incredibles’.
The jumbo jet’s production required the construction of a massive factory in Everett, north of Seattle – the world’s largest building by volume.
The plane’s fuselage (main body) was 225ft (68.5 metres) long and the tail stood as tall as a six-storey building.
Its design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump and inspiring a nickname, the Whale.
The sun rises over Myanmar in this picture, which was taken in a 747-8 in 2015
This impressive shot – featuring a full moon – was snared over the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska in 2015
Reflecting on the termination of the production of the 747, Christiaan says: ‘I thought it was a fitting time to showcase a variety of shots that illustrate the Queen of the Skies in various settings and angles’
It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747. Above is a Polar Air Cargo 747 aircraft in Anchorage
The glittering lights of London as seen from the aeroplane’s cockpit
Some airlines turned the second deck into a first-class cocktail lounge, while even the lower deck sometimes featured lounges or even a piano bar.
One decommissioned 747, originally built for Singapore Airlines in 1976, has been converted into a 33-room hotel near the airport in Stockholm.
Over the past 15 years, however, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have introduced more profitable and fuel-efficient wide-body planes, with only two engines to maintain instead of the 747′s four.
Delta was the last U.S airline to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although some other international carriers continue to fly it, including the German airline Lufthansa.
BOEING 747: REIGNING AS THE QUEEN OF THE SKIES FROM 1970 TO 2023
– The Boeing 747 was designed and built over the course of just 16 months by 50,000 workers in the late 1960s.
– The plane was made in a specially built factor in Everett, Washington, which is the world’s largest building by volume.
– In 1968 the Boeing 747 began its first test flights, and a year later the plane flew its first official flight.
– 1970 saw the 747 enter the market, with the first planes being delivered to Pan American airline.
– The 747 was the first aeroplane to be dubbed a ‘jumbo jet’.
– Throughout the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and up through the 200s, numerous 747 models and developments were released.
– In the 70s, NASA commissioned a 474 specially designed to transport the space shuttle and carry it on test flights.
– The US president’s plane – Air Force One – is a heavily modified 747 model called the VC-25.
– Boeing had its most 747 sales in the 1990s.
– The last 747 variant was released in 2010 – the 747-8 – which can carry 467 passengers.
– 747s began being pulled from passenger flights as more efficient models with fewer engines began to enter the market.
– Airfreight lines still heavily use 747s, and Airlines like Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China still fly them for passenger use.
– Experts say it is likely 747s will still be flying as late as 2050.
– 1,574 Boeing 747s were built over 54 years of production.
– Boeing estimates 747s have flown over 42billion nautical miles – about 101,500 trips to the moon and back – and carried over 5.9billion people.
– At full speed, the 747 covers three football fields every second.
– The plane’s cargo hold can carry 19million golf balls.
– The 747 wingspan is so large that 45 cars could fit on them.
– Three 1,500-square-ft (139 sq m) houses could fit inside the 747’s cabin.
– The plane’s wings alone are 30 times heavier than the first plane Boeing built in 1916.
– Its 150-foot economy cabin alone was longer than the Wright Brothers first 120-foot flight in 1903.
– Each 747 is built from about six million parts – half of which are fasteners.
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