In the early 60’s there was an aviation race: to build the world’s first supersonic transport. This was, after all, the very future of commercial flight. It was the way everyone who was anyone during this fevered period agreed passengers would be traversing the globe in the 70’s and beyond. The spoils for the winner, therefore, were going to be significant.
The two participants in this race to the future were Boeing, and the European consortium who were building the Concorde, and it was soon clear the race was already won. The Vietnam War and an impending recession in the USA both took their financial toll and, when it was clear that Concorde was going to win the race, President Kennedy had no choice but to drop the Boeing Supersonic funding.
It was an action that plunged Boeing into chaos. Except for one little corner within the giant aircraft manufacturer, where a project being developed by a little known engineer, Joe Sutter, was still ongoing - his idea for a jumbo jet, called the 747.
Some 54-years later, our author stands next to the last 747 as it is delivered to its operator, Atlas Air. There have been 1574 of these aircraft built across that period and this immediately recognisable behemoth has changed the world in ways that its designer could never have envisaged. From democratising air travel for the masses, to changing the way that world commerce is facilitated, no other aircraft, arguably in the entire history of aviation, has been loved and venerated by so many.
Yet so few know the true impact the 747 - the original ‘jumbo jet’ - had on our world, and, for many years now, it has been Scott Bateman’s mission to right that wrong. As a former 747 pilot himself, and producer of the Smithsonian documentary The Last 747, he will guide us through the story of the aircraft’s distinguished life, a fifty-four year journey that began with a modest aeronautical engineer, and ended in a hangar (the Everett Factory, the largest building in the world, in fact), in February 2023, when Scott and his team watched the very last 747 being delivered.
But what makes this aircraft so special? Is it because it has carried presidents? Is it because it has broken three magnificent records? (It’s the longest commercial aircraft in the world, it has carried more passengers at one time than any other aircraft, it’s the fastest commercial airliner still flying.) Is it because, astonishingly, within the walls of its sleek aluminium body, it has transported a number of people equivalent to half our planet’s current population? Weaving in his own journey, from his first flight as a 747 pilot to his last, and beyond, Scott will attempt to answer the question of why this remarkable aircraft gets under the skin of so many pilots, engineers, crew, and passengers - all of whom will share their own unique stories about their romance with the Queen of the Skies
The book will also chart the progress of the manufacture of that final 747 and, as well as saying farewell to a much-loved iconic aircraft, pay tribute to an astonishing aeronautical era, perhaps the most significant of its kind in modern history.
Lynne Barrett-Lee was born in London and became a fulltime writer shortly after moving to Cardiff in 1994. She is the author of ten novels, including her acclaimed debut, Julia Gets a Life, and Barefoot in the Dark, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her novels have been translated into several languages and she has also contributed two titles (one ghostwritten for television presenter Fiona Phillips) to the UK’s Quick Reads Campaign, which provides easy-to-read books for adult emergent readers.
Most recently, Lynne has returned to h...
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Born and raised in a small village in Scotland and now based in the West Country where he lives with his wife and adult children, Scott Bateman has been a professional aviator for all of his adult life, starting out as an Air Loadmaster on C-130’s in the RAF and continuing now with state-of-the-art airliners. Scott had always aspired to become a pilot, and after being selected in 1997 and training in Lincolnshire, he returned to his metaphorical home and the C-130 but now as a pilot. After 3-years, Scott became a Captain on the aircraft and stayed in that role before being selected fo...
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