Farewell to the Queen of the Skies

Dec. 21, 2017
Delta Air Lines celebrates the iconic 747 with their Farewell Tour.

The last 747-400 to operate revenue passenger flights for a U.S. domestic airline flew into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) recently. For a few short hours Ship 6309 was the center of attraction at a celebration for the Queen of the Sky. The Farewell Tour began in Detroit on a Sunday making stops in Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and then back to Atlanta, and eventually will be taken out of service. At each stop Delta organized a hangar celebration for employees, retirees, and a few friends of the 747.  

Being at the Delta Air Lines facility at MSP last night was full of memories. I spent over 20 of my 27-year Northwest/Delta Airlines career in this building and have only been back once since leaving eight years ago.

The celebration was a time to visit with former co-workers, reminisce about The Whale as the 747 was affectionately called, walk around and through Ship 6309, listen to speakers about their experiences with the 747, and sign your name on the aircraft’s exterior. My name is on the outboard side of the #2 nacelle.

Delta Air Lines acquired the 747-400s when it merged with Northwest Airlines. Northwest was a large operator of 747 Classics, Freighters, and launch customer for the 747-400. Most Northwest employees had some involvement with the 747. I worked on them as a mechanic, managed crews working on them as a supervisor and manager, and conducted audits of organizations that maintained them while in the Quality Assurance group.

I regularly flew on the 747s across both oceans; NWA Flight 19 from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Narita, Japan was a regular flight for me. If you ever spent time in Narita back in the day you would see an endless stream of 747s from around the world come and go.  

I don’t recall exactly the last time I flew on a 747; other than it’s been awhile. I believe it was around 12 years ago probably returning from Hong Kong or Singapore.

Thanks Delta for celebrating the contributions this aircraft made to our industry and allowing some us the opportunity to reminisce about days gone by.

Ron