• Boeing's most iconic aircraft celebrated 50 years of passenger service on Wednesday.
  • The aircraft first flew in 1969 and began commercial service in 1970, revolutionizing air travel with its iconic design.
  • Despite over 50 years in the air, most airlines around the world are retiring their 747s in favor of new, fuel-efficient dual-engine aircraft.
  • Qantas, British Airways, and Lufthansa are among the last operators of the aircraft dubbed the Queen of the Skies.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One of the greatest feats of American aerospace engineering celebrates 50 years of passenger service this week.

Long before the Boeing 737 Max, there was the Boeing 747, the first quad-jet engine and dual-level passenger aircraft to roam the skies. It's known by many names including Jumbo Jet, Queen of the Skies, and even the Humpback, and is arguably the most recognizable aircraft in the skies.

Boeing conceived the aircraft in the mid-1960s when it was designed to be the next step up from the similarly four-engined and widely popular Boeing 707 passenger jet. With demand for air travel on the rise, the Boeing 747 would offer airlines greater seating capacity, increased range, and extra room for luxuries such as onboard lounges and bars.

Though it took its first flight in 1969, it wouldn't enter service until January 22, 1970, fifty years ago on Wednesday, with Pan American World Airways.

Here's the story of the Boeing 747, the aircraft that would firmly establish America as a leader in aircraft manufacturing for decades to come.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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