Frank Shrontz and a Sea of 747s

By Jack Speigner

December 2016

In delivering new airplanes to foreign customers, Boeing would often use Boeing pilots to fly the airplanes 400 miles offshore with both Boeing and customer personnel on board while en route to the customer, sign the delivery documents, have the customer pilots take the controls and continue on to the customer's base.

On one such delivery of a Boeing 747-300 to Singapore Airlines, Boeing's new chairman, Frank Shrontz, was on board. The airplane had made a fueling stop at Tokyo's Narita Airport. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun was just beginning to set. The aircraft was parked on the tarmac well away from the terminal. The aircraft doors had been opened, and a set of air stairs brought up to the front door. However, since this was only a technical stop, we were not allowed to leave the aircraft.

The cool, fresh air felt good, and Mr. Shrontz was standing in the doorway looking around as if looking for someone. I guess I caught his eye, and he motioned me to join him at the doorway. When I arrived, he motioned with his arm to look around outside and said, "Doesn't it do your heart good? All you can see is Boeing airplanes."

And sure enough, the only airplanes we could see from our position were Boeing airplanes. I stood in the doorway and counted 50 Boeing 747s on the ground at Narita Airport that afternoon. It was a fabulous sight. At the time, I believe it was about 10 percent of the total 747 worldwide fleet.