My Favorite Plane: The Big, Beautiful Boeing 747
I’m not very good at recognizing the various passenger jets flying around these days. They all look pretty much the same to me. I can usually spot the Boeing 777. It’s a lot bigger than the other planes lined up at their gates and it has six wheels on each of the main landing gears. Most all of the others have four.
I’ve always liked the 767, primarily because of the 2-3-2 seating arrangement it offers. And I’ve always disliked the 757, mostly because it’s just a long skinny metal tube with three seats on each side of a center aisle. A very long center aisle. Oh .. and it’s an old plane, too.
Hawaiian airlines flies Boeing 717s inter-island here. These are a newer version of the old DC-9s. They’re OK … mostly because the flight from here on Maui to Honolulu is just 22 minutes.
But, to my mind, there will never be anything better than the 747. And I was amazed to learn that Boeing has just reached an incredible milestone: their plant in Everett, Washington, has just finished building 747 number fifteen hundred. They sent it off to Germany where it has joined the Lufthansa fleet.
I have two personal reasons for thinking fondly of these huge planes, with both incidents taking place on a 747 flown by Pan American. The first was a flight from Honolulu to San Francisco. I was in first class and about an hour out of Honolulu, the flight attendant invited me to go up onto the upper level where dinner was about to be served. To my delight, it tuned out that my dinner companions were then former governor of California, Pat Brown, and his wife. Imagine that: a political junkie like me talking politics with Pat Brown for a couple of hours.
A year or so earlier, I was flying back to Honolulu from Guam where I had gone to pitch a prospective client. Once again, I was on a PanAm 747. Not more than 60 seconds into the flight and still climbing away from the Guam airport, there was a brilliant white flash and a loud bang right outside my window. Clearly, we had blown an engine. But what amazed me — and what surely accounts for my affection for those big beautiful 747s — there was absolutely no discernible change in the plane’s behavior. We kept climbing, leveled off at 14,000 feet, and dumped fuel for the next half hour or so.
Yes, You bet I love those big beautiful planes … and I hope Boeing gets orders for 1500 more of them.