Book Reviews



Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and 
Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation

by Joe Sutter

Review by Richard Sheppard


One of the interesting bits of information to come out of a book, which is essentially a project management review (granted, designing and building the 747 was some project!) sprinkled with the author's biography, is that the first 747 rolled out of it's production hangar just before Man's first Moon Landing in July, 1969. By December of that year, the 747 had its maiden flight; which means those big humpbacked airliners you see taxiing around airport runways date back nearly 40 years, with some of the original planes still flying.

Boeing Listened to their Customer

The 747 arose when the legendary head of Pan American, Juan Trippe, an aviation pioneer and astute industry seer, foresaw in the mid-sixties massive growth in air travel through the end of the century. Boeing, with (author) Sutter as 747 project overseer, "listened to their customer" in creating an aviation icon. History has profitably proven Boeing and Mr. Trippe correct (even if Pan Am hasn't survived), and through many versions, the 747 remains one of Boeing's most profitable product since they've been selling it.

Even today, as the Euro-consortium Airbus roles out their 500+-passenger A-380, and Boeing counters with its 787 Dreamliner, aircraft building remains among the most complicated and riskiest of endeavors. Despite the A-380's massive, publicity-grabbing size, Airbus might have overestimated the market, while Boeing's 787 for now, seems to have hit the mark.

Even as new planes roll off the production lines in search of markets, Boeing continues to build and profit from several 747 versions, which is also the world's choice for cargo/freight operations.