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Flying the 747

What was it like to fly the world’s very first jumbo jet? Pilot Jerry Coy describes his experiences flying the 747 in our latest podcast episode.

 *NOTE: During this episode, you may hear the interviewer and interviewee refer to “the 400” or “dash 100.” These numbers refer to variants of the 747. Just like apples have different varieties—fuji, honeycrisp, MacIntosh, etc—planes have their own variations, too!


When Boeing released the 747, it changed the aviation industry forever. The story of the 747’s development, however, must be told alongside the stories of the pilots who flew it. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 747’s first flight, we feature an oral history with pilot Jerry Coy, who flew the 747 during its heyday. Coy has piloted planes for 40 years, including 330 combat missions, but his commercial career is just as fascinating. This week he shares the story of how difficult it was for pilots to be chosen to fly the Queen of the Skies, because it was all based on seniority. And once a pilot was chosen to fly, they were in charge of transporting hundreds of passengers all around the globe. Coy flew from Seattle to Tokyo, and he recalls a scary instance in which an engine failed. Coy’s stories are an ideal way to celebrate the amazing history of this incredible plane!

Listen to more fascinating oral histories by visiting our digital archives page, and then take a moment to learn more about the very first 747 ever flown.

The Oral History Program is made possible by the generous support of Michael and Mary Kay Hallman.


Host: Sean Mobley

Producer: Sean Mobley

Webmaster: Layne Benofsky

Content Marketing Manager: Irene Jagla

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