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The First Boeing 747 Ever Built Needs A Good Home

Illustration for article titled The First Boeing 747 Ever Built Needs A Good Home

Mouldering quietly on a forlorn corner of Boeing's field near Seattle, Wash., Boeing 747 RA001 is in need of a restoration. To the Washingtonians who built more than 1,400 of the humpbacked workhorses, seeing No. 1 in such a state of disrepair brings a touch of shame.

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The 747 is the plane that revolutionized commercial jet travel, served as Air Force One, and carried a NASA space shuttle on its back.

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In its heyday, the 43-year-old No. 1 completed more than 12,000 test flights, overcoming the doubts of many that a plane so huge would ever fly. When it rolled off the assembly line, there weren't engines powerful enough to bring its bulk to top speed. In the nick of time, Pratt & Whitney managed to goose a few extra horses out of its JT9D turbofan engines, bringing the plane's top speed up to its design spec 600 mph.

Illustration for article titled The First Boeing 747 Ever Built Needs A Good Home

No. 1 has always been more or less an empty shell, save a tiny cockpit packed with antiquated analog gauges and manual flight controls and a workers' lounge sporting orange, ashtray-decked sofas. But over the years, Seattle's prolific rain and a number of homeless people who used the tail section as a toilet have brought the once mighty giant to a pathetic state.

Restoring the 231-foot-long aircraft's interior would cost $1.2 million, and bringing it back to flight-ready status a lot more. But the Museum of Flight's curator is hopeful that someone will step up to the plate and bring the old bird back to life before it's too late. It would be a shame to see such an historic plane fall prey to the same fate as Led Zeppelin's Starship.

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Photo credit: Museum of Flight; archive.com

(Hat Tip to @bzrong!)

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DISCUSSION

I work in the Curatorial Department at The Museum of Flight and this article is a bit misleading. RA001 is currently a part of the museum's collection and has been for years. It is currently housed in our Air Park, which is across the street from the main museum campus. It sits next to our Concorde, Air Force 1, and Connie. The plane is well taken care of, as there are members on staff who's job it is to take care of all the aircraft in the collection. When it sat across the street at Boeing Field and still belonged to Boeing it was not looked after, but since it has been at the museum it is in our fenced park with security and care. The exterior of the plane, I think, is what gives people the impression that it is overlooked. The paint is faded and the 1.25 million would be needed for a paint job and an interior refresh. The plane will never fly again and won't be leaving our collection anytime soon. (Sorry Evergreen.) I've been in the plane several times and we do give periodic tours of the interior. If anyone wants pictures, I'd be happy to share. Also, if anyone wants to donate to help with the restoration I can put you in touch with the right people.