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The Boeing 747, the “Queen of the Heavens,” is flying into history

even before Boeing 747 Its first passengers flew in 1970, the world knew this was something special. And from day one, the Anderson family has got their hands on literally every 747 ever built and running on the production line in Everett, Washington.

Kelvin “Andy” Anderson was prototype supervisor; His son, Vic, is now a master mechanic on the latest one (and about 875 before it).

“He’s turning it on, and I’m going to turn it off,” Vic said. “It means a lot to our family.”

“CBS Mornings” was there in December as Vic Anderson took his dad to see the final compilation of “Queen of Heaven,” just days before it went off line.

Another 747, at Boeing's assembly plant in Everett, Washington.
Another 747, at Boeing’s assembly plant in Everett, Washington.

CBS News

It took its first test ride, and bathed in about 120 gallons of paint before its final delivery on Tuesday.

The last 747 to roll off the Boeing assembly line will be delivered to Atlas Air for use as a freighter.


“I will miss her,” said Andy. “I really missed him.”

In 1969 Andy Anderson was working in the same factory where they built the world’s first jumbo jet, twice the size of the largest passenger jet to date. “It was in everyone’s mind whether it was going to go off or not,” he said.

When asked what went through his mind when he saw his first fly, Andy smiled and said, “I got goosebumps! Everyone wanted to fly in ’47. They still do, right?”

And for more than five decades, its four engines have carried million passengers, six presidents and even a space shuttle across the country and around the world.

But newer, more fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft lead to the end of the 747.

Boeing historian Mike Lombardi said, “This plane marked a point in history, the first time anyone on planet Earth could get on a plane and fly … You could say it shrinks the world.”

Boeing engineers believed that this mid-century engineering marvel would carry passengers only a decade before supersonic aircraft such as the Boeing Co Concord has become the norm. They designed the 747 to live on as a freighter, which is why it got that iconic hump – allowing for a nose that could open to load cargo.

So the last 747 is a freighter that will be delivered for years to come.

After 1,574,747 aircraft have been built, Boeing will deliver the last of the aircraft on Tuesday to Aviation Atlasfor use as a cargo plane. Vic Anderson said, “I never thought I’d outlive her.”

747-Wheels. jpg
Vic and Andy Anderson on the floor of the Boeing assembly plant.

CBS News

In the words of Andy Anderson, “She’s still the Queen.”

See also:

Final approach for the 747


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