BA PEOPLE • March 2019
As the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747s, the 50th anniversary of British Airways' beloved aircraft has prompted a wave of nostalgia throughout the aviation world. We asked BA crew who have worked on the aircraft to share their stories and reveal their most memorable 747 moments
Emily Hunt, Colleague Communication and Engagement Coordinator
I wouldn’t call myself an AV-geek, but there’s just something about the 747. She’s iconic. A classic. I remember as a little girl climbing the staircase and I couldn’t believe it, stairs on an plane, just like my house. Later, when I joined BA as cabin crew, she became my work home and I even met my other half – a pilot – on a 747. Now I’m not flying as often, every time I see a 747 I smile and remember all the incredible places she’s taken me. To me, she’ll always be the Queen of the Skies.
Mark Vanhoenacker, Senior First Officer
When I was a child, I was in love with airliners of all kinds, but it was the 747 that captured my imagination most completely. Its rare and marvellous combination of size and grace, its extraordinary ability to vault between far-off cities, its iconic silhouette (the hump in the forward fuselage arguably resembling the head of a bird)... Even with so many newer planes taking flight these days, it’s no surprise that the ‘jumbo jet’ remains a reliable synonym for aerial wonder. On the evening of 12 December 2007, I flew a 747 for the first time as a pilot, from London to Hong Kong. I flew the 747 for 11 years and, to this day, it remains the highlight of my career.
Hitesh Patel, Heathrow Operations Team
When I was young, I’d dream of climbing the staircase of a 747, the ‘Queen of the Skies’. Then, when I first started at Heathrow in 2003, the aircraft was the first one I worked on. The thing that struck me most about it was the design, that unique bubble on the top of the plane. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel on the upper deck and the thrill of it was second to none. It’s as if you’re travelling in a private jet. I feel honoured to work for British Airways knowing that our customers can enjoy the same experience.
Travel back in time: the Boeing 747, recently re-painted with the BOAC livery which adorned the BOAC fleet between 1964 and 1974
Lauren Stacey, Programme Lead at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
During my time at BA, I’ve spent many years working on the 747s. I’ve crawled through its fuel tanks, fitted its wheels and touched the top of the tail. It’s even where I was introduced to my future husband, when we were both working on one of its engines. The 747 has played a huge part for us at the engineering base here in Cardiff, and after 25 years of servicing it, we know it inside out. It has been a truly reliable aircraft and is a legacy of British Airways – I’m sure a lot of people will be sad to see it go when the last one retires in 2024.
As part of British Airways' centenary celebrations, the airline has painted a Boeing 747 in the retro BOAC livery. To find out more about the landmark birthday, click here