Great news, AvGeeks! The Museum of Flight is going to restore the very first 747 - The City Of Everett to "first flight conditions." She first took flight on February 9, 1969 but has been parked outdoors at the museum for many years. As you might imagine, the wet Pacific Northwest weather has not helped her age well.
RA001 was first presented to the world on September 30, 1968, and she has lived outdoors ever since. She made over 12,000 test flights as Boeing's sacrificial lamb during her glory days as the demonstration plane for the 747 program, and later as a testbed for other technological upgrades including the Boeing 777 engine. She was never destined to fly for a glamorous airline like Pan Am.
I first heard this exciting news while standing next to the plane in February at Aviation Geek Fest 2014, hosted by Boeing, the Future of Flight Museum, the Museum of Flight and AirlineReporter.com. Standing beside the original Queen of the Skies, she was definitely looking a bit neglected with faded, streaking paint. The plane is an important relic of engineering and aviation history, and needs to be preserved and protected from the elements. According to the Museum of Flight site, the restoration will go as follows:
"It will take place onsite, in the Museum's Airpark. After a thorough wash and sand, The City of Everett will be painted in almost the exact scheme from its rollout on September 30, 1968, including replicating more than two dozen airline logos that adorned the front of the fuselage. The restoration of the 747 is a precursor to the Museum's west campus expansion and the covering of the Museum's commercial aircraft."
During my visit in February, I was fortunate to be allowed inside the historic plane, which isn't open to the general public. Here are some photos of the rarely-seen interior.
Flight deck of the very first 747, RA001
Looking down the spiral staircase on RA001. I was a bit disappointed last year when I flew a newer 747-400 model to discover the stairs are no longer spiral.
The nose area on RA001 holds water ballast barrels to simulate the weight of passenger seats during flight tests.
Main cabin of RA001, standing at the front, looking toward the tail.
It seems weird to personify an inanimate object like a plane, but her treatment the past several years amounts to tying your family dog to a tree in the yard 24/7. It has served you loyally, it has protected you and made your family better. The 747 has carried everything from the Space Shuttle to the President. It's a national symbol. Sheltering this plane and the others in the air park with it (a former Air Force One 707, a Concorde, and a Super Constellation among others) is an important and necessary step.The Museum is taking donations for the restoration. If you wish to donate, you can do so here.
All photos were taken by the author, Paul Thompson