The last-ever 747, N863GT, departs from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its delivery flight.
The last-ever 747, N863GT, departs from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its delivery flight

It’s the end of an era, one that revolutionized travel and brought the world closer together. After the Feb. 1, 2023 delivery of the last 747 built – a 747-8F registered as N863GT to Atlas Air – no new 747s will ever again depart from Boeing’s manufacturing plant in Everett, Washington.

Every AvGeek knows the story of the 747. Designed and built by the Incredibles – the group of engineers and mechanics and line workers who, in the late 1960s, created an unusual-looking airplane that would, in its way, change the world.

Thousands of Boeing employees, visitors, and guests fill the enormous manufacturing plant that housed the 747 assembly line.
Thousands of Boeing employees, visitors, and guests fill the enormous manufacturing plant that housed the 747 assembly line

Boeing held a two-day event to commemorate the delivery of the final 747, to Atlas Air. Thousands of people were in attendance for the event, filling a section of the former 747 assembly line, which is being dismantled and the space repurposed.

Parts of the vast complex will be converted to a fourth 737 line to augment Boeing’s Renton, Wash., plant, which, until the new line starts up, currently builds all 737s.

Atlas Air's new 787-8F received a traditional water-cannon salute as it left Boeing's delivery ramp
Atlas Air’s new 787-8F received a traditional water-cannon salute as it left Boeing’s delivery ramp

The 747 program began in 1965, with Joe Sutter at the design helm. The prototype rolled out of the then-new factory in 1968.

Desi Evans was one of the team of Incredibles who worked to build the very first 747, and many subsequent iterations of the jetliner
Desi Evans was one of the team of Incredibles who worked to build the very first 747, and many subsequent iterations of the jetliner

The first flight was on February 9, 1969, and the 747 earned FAA certification in December of that same year. The 747 then entered service with Pan Am on January 22, 1970.

After departing, the jet swung back for a low pass over the runway, delighting spectators
After departing, the jet swung back for a low pass over the runway, delighting spectators. A 777x is parked to the left

Boeing produced 1,574 747s over the life of the program.

Joe Sutter, who's credited with designing the 747, is recognized on a decal on the aircraft's right side
Joe Sutter, who’s credited with designing the 747, is recognized on a decal on the aircraft’s right side

Sutter was also a key player in the designs of the Boeing 367-80 “Dash 80,” the 707, 727, and 737.

Despite the quad-engine jet’s many versions over its nearly 60-year production run, the basic silhouette didn’t change.

On its way to Cincinnati, the 747’s flight plan included a 747 crown pattern over Eastern Washington – Image: Atlas Air

The delivery flight’s playback can be found here on Flightradar24.

Attendees recorded the opening of the giant hangar doors for the reveal of the jet at the end of the event
Attendees recorded the opening of the giant hangar doors for the reveal of the jet at the end of the event

The event was part eulogy, part celebration, and a sendoff for a new jet that will transport cargo for decades into the future.

As the jet departed, the pilot waved the wings
As the jet departed, the pilot waved the wings several times in farewell

A few months ago I wrote about a flight in Etihad’s 787 business class. Later in the trip, during a long connection, I got to explore the highlights of the airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi.

Those highlights included a free hotel program for long layovers and a unique US immigration pre-clearance facility. The pièce de résistance was a morning visit to the incredible first class lounge, with a gourmet breakfast, great views of the ramp, and even a cigar bar.

Read on for a walkthrough of Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub, and for tips on how to take advantage if you pass through the airport yourself.

A young kiddo wearing a santa hat and rides an airplane rocking horse and poses next to a christmas tree topped with a captain's hat.
An enthusiastic Jr. AvGeek is ready for the holidays – Photo: JL Johnson

Every year I’m told that folks like me are hard to shop for. This is surprising since a big part of the whole “AvGeek thing” is travel. So if you’re in a rush, or you’ve been sent this article by the plane nerd in your family, it’s quite simple: Travel.

Travel is the best gift you can give an AvGeek. That’s it. But don’t take it just from me. Numerous studies conclude that money spent on experiences has a bigger impact on happiness than money spent on physical things.

“Create memories, not clutter.”

Marie Kondo (probably, sounds like something she’d say)

Before folks run to the comments, travel doesn’t have to be expensive. With a gift card of whatever value to someone’s airline of choice, or a contribution towards an experience (like those below), I am confident your gift would be appreciated by your AvGeek(s). For those who want to dig into the exciting stuff, meet us below the line…