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Looking back in wonder as United bids the 747 a fond farewell

A 747 is part of the Continental fleet.

Last week, United Airlines ended an era when it retired its last Boeing 747 from service. At the time it was introduced in 1970, the 747 was the first wide-body jet with the highest passenger capacity. Because it dwarfed all other planes, it picked up the nickname jumbo jet or the more regal “the queen of the skies.’’

“Its grace, its capabilities, and its place in history give the 747 an unmatched mystique that transcends aviation,’’ said Patrick Smith, a pilot and author. “Its legacy belongs to the bigger, more important context of human imagination and achievement.’’

The 747 is not only a cultural icon, it’s also a celebrity. The plane has appeared in more than 300 films, everything from campy disaster flick “Airport 1975’’ to the 1997 film “Air Force One.’’

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