As of today, no US airlines operate the mighty Boeing 747
Mike Kane/Bloomberg/Getty Images
On Wednesday, Delta Airlines flight 9771 flew from Atlanta to Pinal Airpark in Arizona. It wasn't a full flight—just 48 people on board. But it was a milestone—and not just for the two people who got married mid-flight—for it marked the very last flight of a Boeing 747 being operated by a US airline. Delta's last scheduled passenger service with the jumbo was actually late in December, at which point it conducted a farewell tour and then some charter flights. But as of today, after 51 long years in service, if you want to ride a 747 you'll need to be traveling abroad.
Way back in the 1960s, when the white heat of technological progress was burning bright, it looked for a while as if supersonic air travel was going to be the next big thing. France and Britain were collaborating on a new kind of airliner that would fly at twice the speed of sound and shrink the globe. But there was just one thing they hadn't counted on: Boeing and its gargantuan 747 jumbo jet. The double-decker airliner wouldn't break the sound barrier, but its vast size compared to anything else in the skies helped drop the cost of long-haul air travel, opening it up to the people in a way Concorde could never hope to do.