Video: The Boeing 747 is one of the world's most iconic airplanes. It's the Queen of the Skies, the Jumbo Jet, one of few planes that can lay claim to such an important role in connecting Australia's multicultural population to its roots in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. Today, it celebrates its 47th year in operation.
The first iteration, the 747-100, entered service in 1970 with Pan American — but before then, it first flew on February 9, which you can see in the video above. Since then, we've had the short-range, high-capacity 747SR for the Japanese domestic market, the long-range 747SP, and the -200, -300 and currently popular -400 variant. More and more 747-8 jets are being picked up by carriers like Lufthansa, but Boeing's market share is being cannibalised by Airbus' A380 and A350 double- and single-decker competitors.
The 747 was partly responsible for opening up the planet and breaking down borders between countries; carriers like Qantas became known for their 747 fleets, and British Airways still flies a fleet of 42 jumbos around the planet. The 747's time in the sky is slowly coming to an end, though, with Air France celebrating its last ever 747 flight in January.
All of this information and more is detailed in 747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet, a book by Boeing legend Joe Sutter. If you like planes, it's well worth a read. Atlas Obscura also has a shorter history of the 747 here. [YouTube]