50 Years Ago, This Invention Revolutionized Travel As We Know It

By Parker Diakite


It’s been 50 years since the airplane known as the “queen of skies” changed air travel as we know it today. Often referred to by its the nickname, “The Jumbo Jet,” the first version of the Boeing 747 was revealed on Sept. 30, 1968.


The motivation behind the 747 revolutionized the tourism industry by making international travel attainable for the middle class rather than a select few wealthy travelers. According to Boeing’s website, the incentive for creating the giant 747 came from reductions in airfares, a surge in air-passenger traffic and increasingly crowded skies.


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Manufactured by Boeing’s Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the 747 was the first wide-body plane ever built.  At the time of its production, Boeing was one of the first airplanes to have four engines instead of three, compared to its competitors, which enhanced the safety of the airplane.


More than 50,000 construction workers, mechanics, and engineers deemed “The Incredibles” designed the plane in less than 16 months in the 1960s.


Before the introduction of the Airbus A380 in 2007, the Boeing 747 was the largest civilian airplane in the world, according to a report from Quartzy. Since its creation, Boeing has built more than 1,500 Boeing 747s. The 747 is the first wide-body airplane in history to reach the 1,500 milestone.


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Despite its iconic history, Boeing does not have plans to construct anymore for airliners.  Airline carries from the US stopped flying 747s in 2017. There are still nearly 500 passenger 747s in service, but they will be retired or replaced. Advances in technology and rising fuel costs are contributing factors to why airline carriers decided to part ways with the four-engine planes.


Twin-engine wide-bodied aircraft such as Boeing’s 787 and 777, and the Airbus A350 are the preference planes for many airline carriers because they are cheaper to operate while carrying the same number of passengers and flying further than the 747, as reported in Traveller. 

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