Delta’s Queen of the Skies (N674US) took a victory lap across the country on Dec. 18
With Delta Air Lines’ last 747 now in the boneyard at Pinal Airpark in Arizona, we thought it would be a good time to look back at the next-to-last farewell tour in late December when it visited both the Boeing plant of its birth and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
N674US taxiing at Paine Field in Everett – Photo: Jordan Arens
This particular bird (N674US – LN: 1232) first flew on September 30, 1999 and was delivered to Northwest in October of that year. It was transferred to Delta’s fleet in June of 2009 and flew with the airline until being put out to pasture. With the retirement of these iconic planes from Delta’s fleet, no U.S.-based passenger airline flies them any longer (unless you count Atlas and their charters).
Landing at Sea-Tac
We will still see 747s visiting the States in the liveries of quite a few international airlines, including Lufthansa, British Airways, and KLM. Also, UPS is buying several dedicated 747-8 freighters, so there are still opportunities for AvGeeks to enjoy watching the plane that launched the era of the jumbo jet. We wanted to share some photos and videos from both on the ground and in the air as part of this historic goodbye.
Still graceful after all these years – Photo: Jordan Arens
For a while, there were two Delta 747-400s at Sea-Tac. This one landed a few minutes before the farewell tour and was parked inside a maintenance hangar as a centerpiece for a party. It was later used to fly the Seattle Seahawks to a game someplace (we’re not all sportsball fans here at AirlineReporter – we only pay attention to the planes).
A special decal was applied to the port side of the tour aircraft to commemorate the series of flights – Photo: Jordan Arens
Photographer Jordan Arens was lucky enough to score a seat on the flight
The route took the plane from Atlanta to Detroit to Seattle – Photos: Jordan Arens
No farewell flight is complete without a rainbow
For a while, there were four 747s at Sea-Tac that day: the two Delta 744s, a Lufthansa 744, and a Singapore Airlines Cargo 744 freighter
And if the photos were not enough, here are some sweet videos of the flight deck, taken by our friend Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren (videos are USA Today, pool):
EDITOR-AT-LARGE / DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aerial, aviation, and commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.
Taking the Long Way: Emirates A380 Business Class from London to Hong Kong via Dubai
Anything But Ordinary: Scandinavian Airlines’ “Next-Gen” Lounge in Oslo
It’s DISGRACEFUL that Delta didn’t give this queen a good WASH/SCRUB to prepare her for her Farewell Tour – cheapskates!? What a pity! Years ago, spotting a FILTHY Delta aircraft was VERY RARE!
Although I agree, to their defense, my guess is it needed a new paint job and they probably weren’t going to put that money in for it to sit in the desert :(.
I still don’t understand why all 747 aircraft couldn’t be re-engined with the more powerful and fuel efficient engines on the market now. This with new avionics could extend the life of the Queen of the Sky’s.
The newest the 747-8’s could be refitted this way and used by all airlines, now it seems as if airlines want smaller aircraft flying long range flights in a 3 class configuration with first and business class very comfortable and the passenger in Y-class cramped in a small seat with no leg room and served food that even a dog wouldn’t touch.
I’ve talked with friends and people who travel a lot and they are also very disappointed the airlines retired all of the 747’s.
It is called “planned obsolescence”. Just as Detroit builds around this economic theory so does de aviation industry.
David, I was told by an Atlas (aka Giant) Captain who flies BOTH 747-8Fs and 744s that he PREFERS the 744 over its newer sibling. He told me that it handles/performs better. That Captain – flying home – sat next to me on my Delta flight from SEA>ATL two Augusts past.
I believe its mostly to do with the fact that the newer engines have a larger diameter and hence would probably not fit under the 747s wings. And lets face it. A twin 747 would look strange. Wouldnt it?
I got to witness that historic moment at KPAE