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Transportation

The Flying Giant Is 40 Years Old 366

Ponca City, We love you writes "Four decades ago, Boeing's prototype 747 took to the skies over Washington State for a 75-minute flight that helped bring cheap airline travel to millions of people and would remain the world's largest commercial aircraft for 37 years until the advent of the double-decker Airbus A380. What made the 747 unique was that it was the first 'wide body' aircraft with more than one aisle — a big step towards reducing the sense of traveling in a narrow tube, and inducing a sense more equivalent to flying in a large room with high ceilings. But back in the 1960s, convincing people that the 747 would fly was a tough call. Joe Sutter, the director of engineering on the project, even spent an hour with Charles Lindbergh, going over all the data to prove that the jumbo would not flip over or become unstable at high speeds. Boeing has sold more than 1,400 jumbos in the past four decades, worth, at today's prices, more than $350 billion and although we might complain of traveling in 'cattle class' we have the 747 to thank for being able to do so at affordable prices."

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