Bon voyage Boeing 747, welcome back, Supersonic

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United Airlines flies its last Boeing 747 flight. DnA meets nostalgic pilots and hears about what’s coming next for airline passengers.

The “Queen of the Skies” – the Boeing 747 – made its final flight Tuesday for United Airlines.

DnA talks to wistful 747 pilots about what made the plane so special. One pilot, Brent DeMoss, says that even though it was a large airplane it “handled like a little sports car, super easy to land and a technological marvel of the time.”

Retired United pilot Perry Cockreham said it was “probably the sweetest airplane I’ve ever flown… the basic aerodynamic design, the way they designed the flight controls, you can put it down quite easily, so gently that people wonder if you’re really on the ground.”

We learn why it’s being replaced: newer planes, like the 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350, are more fuel-efficient and more comfortable for passengers, with more humidity and lower cabin pressure, meaning less fatigue.

Alberto Diaz, United Airlines chief pilot at LAX

“For the time it was very revolutionary,” said Alberto Diaz, United’s chief pilot at LAX. “Nowadays the airplane is kind of like a Mac truck, like a big SUV. And we’re going toward the Teslas, toward the sedans that are more fuel efficient.”

Plus, airlines are focusing on now moving more people in smaller planes to small far away destinations, and that means plane design has to change.

We also get a glimpse of just how: designers are working on better air and lighting, maybe staggered seating — and, perhaps, the return of supersonic planes.

Kathleen Hesse and Perry Cockreham with United Airlines on board a Boeing 747. Photos by Avishay Artsy.