The story of the first flight operated by a Boeing 747 told by Thomas Lee (Video)

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On January 22, 1970, the first Boeing 747-100 in aviation history took off on the first commercial flight. It was on the New York - London route. The aircraft was under the colors of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), the launch client for Boeing 747. Initially the inaugural flight was scheduled for the evening of January 21, but a technical problem with one of the engines delayed the flight by about 6 hours, until 22 January.


After 45 years after the first flight in Boeing 747 history, colleagues at spoke to Thomas Lee, one of the passengers on the inaugural flight.

At that time, Thomas Lee was only 17 and was a teenager eager to discover new, curious and fearless things. Lee's father was a loyal Pan Am passenger, so the whole family was invited to this historic overseas flight.

The first Boeing 747 aircraft scheduled to operate the inaugural flight had problems taking off. Thomas Lee reports a flameout to engine four, and the takeoff was canceled. Fortunately for Pan Am, the second Boeing 747 "Clipper Victor" (N736PA) had been delivered the day before and was in the hangar.

The story of the first flight operated by a Boeing 747

It took about 6 hours to prepare the aircraft. During this time, passengers were transferred to an Italian restaurant in New Jersey where they attended a party. When they were flown back to John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, 30 people decided that this first 747 flight was too dangerous and they did not board the aircraft again.

As a teenager, Thomas Lee lived the experience of the first flight from another angle. He was not interested in the textile material of the chairs or the models on the shiny silverware. His observations were more general in character. He was fascinated by the largest passenger aircraft, which benefited from an interior staircase, bar and lounge area.


Thomas Lee told us about the experience of the first flight operated by a Boeing 747

Because they could not transfer all the catering equipment to the second aircraft, a buffet was created in the kitchen and each served as desired. Passengers were allowed to go to the cockpit and talk to the crew, and the restrictions were not as severe as they are today. This was also possible because it was an inaugural flight, a unique experience.

Lee recounts that the sensation of entering the Boeing 747 was similar to that of the Grand Canyon. Note that this was the first 2 color aircraft with a small upper deck. When they took off, the aircraft slowly rose to cruise altitude.

The inaugural flight of the Boeing 747-100 Pan Am aircraft held the record for the number of passengers carried for 37 years. There were 20 crew members and 335 passengers on board. The flight New York - London lasted 6 hours and 43 minutes.

The Boeing 747-121 "Clipper Victor" Pan Am aircraft flew between 1970 and 1977, with a tragic end. She was involved in one of the biggest accidents in aviation. On March 27, 1977, the "Clipper Victor" plane collided with a Boeing 747 KLM at Tenerife airport. 583 people died and 61 survived.

Thomas Lee is a lucky man. Lee was on the inaugural flights of 747-8, 787 and A380 aircraft. At the time of the interview, Lee was on the first flight operated by Airbus A350 XWB Qatar Airways. So far, it has flown 7.3 millions of miles. The preferred aircraft remains the Boeing 777, the first aircraft developed entirely on computers.

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