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From The Archive: Building, Flying and Exploring the Legendary Boeing 747

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Readers will know that Aviation Week’s centennial archive – launched in 2016 – is an aerospace treasure trove. You may not be familiar that Aviation Week also had a television arm in the 1990s. In partnership with Discovery Channel, our editors produced a series of informative videos about key topics in the industry.

Earlier this month while we prepared our package on the golden anniversary of the first flight of Boeing’s 747, colleague William Garvey unearthed this 50-minute documentary: “Building, Flying and Exploring the Legendary Boeing 747”.

Garvey, now editor-in-chief of Business & Commercial Aviation, wrote and produced the film alongside Aviation Week’s executive video producer Denis de Pierro.

Produced in 1999, 30 years after first flight of the 747, the film features interviews with Joe Sutter, Malcolm Stamper (then VP of the 747 program), David Tait (one of the architects of Virgin Atlantic) and John Cashman (Boeing chief test pilot). There’s also footage of key milestones, including the jumbo’s debut at the 1969 Paris Air Show.

Speaking about Boeing’s “brightest star,” Sutter said: “I believe the 747 program is just in its midlife. You’ll see this airplane flying another 20 or 30 years from now. It’ll be in production for something like 50 years.”

Note: the video was produced on VHS before the advent of internet broadcasting. The quality and sound reflect this.

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