Airplane enthusiasts trooped to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to witness Japan’s last ever flight of the historic Boeing 747 as All Nippon Airways is finally retiring the jumbo jet that has served Japanese travelers well the past 44 years. The final flight on March 31, 3:00 PM, was between Tokyo and Naha, until it made its final landing in Tokyo with its 569 passengers, a full-capacity last flight.
A huge crowd greeted the plane upon its arrival, taking pictures and cheering as the plane taxied in front of Terminal 2, making its way to the parking area under a rainbow arch made by water cannons. Employees of ANA also displayed a large banner that had comments from employees and passengers to celebrate the last journey of the groundbreaking plane that changed the traveling habits of the Japanese public in the 70s and 80s. Captain Joji Kanda was the pilot for the plane’s last flight ever, appropriately since this was the same day of his official retirement as well. He said he felt like he’s lost a “best friend,” having flown the plane for 27 out of his 35 years as a pilot.
The 70 meter long and 20 meter tall 747 was the largest passenger aircraft at that time, when Japan Airlines first launched it in Japan in July 1970. Former 747 pilot and now aviation critic Hiroyuki Kobayashi believes that the 747 was the reason that the Japanese public was encouraged to go out and travel both domestically and internationally as it made traveling easier and more accessible. But because of advances in technology, Boeing eventually started phasing them out, replacing them with the more fuel-efficient 777 and other models.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]