Monday, September 17th, 2012 10:46 am GMT -7 Monday, September 17th, 2012 10:46 am GMT -7Monday, September 17th, 2012 10:46 am GMT -7
British Airways Boeing 747-400

Go ahead. Make it a jumbo.





Over the years I have done quite a bit of business travel. I enjoy sightseeing, and at the top of my list are visits to aviation museums. I have been lucky enough to visit many, and I have loved every minute of my time in these wonderful museums.

Boeing 747 Prototype, City of Everett, at Seattle Museum of Flight

Twenty years ago the company I was working for sent me to Seattle, Washington for two weeks. I visited the Museum of Flight at the first opportunity that I got. The Boeing 747 prototype, dubbed the City of Everett, is at the museum.

Then I made the trek up to Everett to go on the Boeing Factory Tour. This is a tour of the largest building in the world where they make the Boeing 747s. It is impossible to describe in words the magnitude of this facility, so I will not even try.

Boeing 747

Not many commercial airliners are memorable enough to earn affectionate nicknames among the general public. This one became known as the “jumbo jet” and the “queen of the skies”. It is also the first ever wide-bodied airliner in the world.

Consisting of six million parts and 171 miles (274 km) of wiring, designing this airplane was no ordinary feat. Seventy-five thousand engineering drawings were used to specify the original version. Until 2005 it was the largest passenger airliner in the world. It is one of the most recognized airplanes in the world, but you already knew that.

By the time the design was completed, Boeing owed $2 billion to creditors. This included a record-setting $1.2 billion owed to banks. The Boeing president at the time, William Allen, was later quoted as saying that the project had really been too big for the company.

But that is all ancient history. With about 1,500 airplanes sold (current price is about $350 million for each one), the Boeing 747 is truly an iconic airplane.

Creating a Model

A design like this is begging to be turned into a giant scale model. But a well-done park flyer would be just as interesting and even more unusual. As with any model, but specially complex scale models, keeping it light is the key to good flying performance.

Using four ducted fans in a small park flyer would be silly. Just use two for the inboard engines. Then either leave the outer engines as hollow tubes or mock them up so they look real on the ground.

This is supposed to be a large airplane, so go easy on the controls. Slow and majestic is the goal here. I would go the extra mile with this one and add small LED lights to the wing tips and tail.

The number of choices for accurate scale paint color schemes is almost unlimited. Many airliners around the world have in the past and continue to use this airplane. Personally, I would go with Air Force One. Hey, as long as we are having fun, might as well play as the big honcho.

The sophisticated triple-slotted flaps almost double the amount of lift that the wings can generate. Do not even try to duplicate them in a model airplane. You will not need them if you focus on keeping the weight low.

You can have a lot of fun with this one. How about rolling up a set of passenger boarding stairs when the airplane is on the ground? At a meet, have the announcer apologize about unanticipated delays in the airplane pushing back from the gate. Eat a TV dinner for lunch and say that is what a 747 pilot gets to eat.

Boeing 747 Official Homepage (web)

Boeing 747 History (web)

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