Suspended Animation

By Paul Wright

March 2016

I worked for Boeing for more than 40 years starting in 1966. In 1969, my fellow employee and I rented a C150 from the Boeing Flying Club so that we could fly from Boeing Field to Paine Field to watch the first flight of the 747.

The 747 takeoff was delayed for weather, so we had to return the airplane before our reservation time expired. We were disappointed, but when we got back we were able to rent another airplane for a couple of hours. We got back to Paine Field before the 747 takeoff, but the tower had closed the airport by then so we were directed to fly to the east of the airport and circle there until the 747 took off.

It wasn't long before the 747 taxied out onto runway 16 and stopped there for a few moments. Then it began to move south at slow speed. We thought it was just doing a taxi test. Then to our amazement the nose lifted and the airplane seemed to float into the air. We had misjudged its speed because of its huge size.

As we continued to circle we were surprised again when the 747 turned to the east and then north, right into the area we were circling in. I just had a couple of seconds to snap a picture or two as the 747 and its F-86 chase plane continued right toward our tail.

At that point my colleague swooped down and away from the 747, and the 747 turned slightly west to cross over the airport on its way north toward clearing skies.

It was a great thrill (and a little scary, too) to share some sky with the first of the magnificent 747s.