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Before enormous, emotional crowd, Boeing delivers final 747

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
The factory doors opened to display the last 747 to thousands of guests who had gathered for the celebration on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at Boeing’s factory in Everett.

Thousands of former and current Boeing workers joined customers and other guests to bid farewell to the company's final 747 jumbo jet.

The hours-long celebration for the so-called “Queen of the Skies" took place in the giant building that once housed the 747 production line.

It was an emotional ceremony for many people, who traded stories of the work they had done on the plane, or the flights they had taken.

“You’re happy, and you are sad too,” said retired 747 worker Desi Evans. “It’s like a part of your life is closing down a little bit.”

Since it debuted in 1969, the 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized international travel.

It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747 — a Herculean effort that earned them the nickname “The Incredibles.” The jumbo jet's production required the construction of a massive factory in Everett, north of Seattle — the world's largest building by volume.

The last plane sports an emblem with the face of Joe Sutter, the late Boeing engineer widely considered the father of the 747, along with the words “Forever Incredible” below the cockpit window.

Nearly 1,600 747’s were produced by Boeing. Even though the plane will no longer be in production, company officials say they will continue to fly and be supported by the company for decades to come.

The final 747 jumbo jet will leave Everett on Wednesday to fly off to its new home with cargo carrier Atlas Air.

For a slideshow of photos from the ceremony from KUOW's Megan Farmer, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.