747 in Twin Cities air tour salute

Judging by the track of the final flight of Delta’s passenger 747s into Minneapolis St. Paul this afternoon, it must have been a breathtaking moment to witness.

The flight departed the usual flight path, looped around the city and then approached Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, at 155 miles per hour, flying down the runway at just a few feet off the ground, only to rise again to return the usual traffic pattern over Bloomington and Eden Prairie before landing back at the airport.

Here’s WCCO’s Facebook stream. The flyby occurs at 10:01

FAREWELL FLIGHT: Watch as Delta Air Lines' last 747 airplane lands for the last time in Minneapolis. (this is raw video)

Posted by WCCO-TV | CBS Minnesota on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

This 747 is actually one of the newer models in the old Northwest Airlines fleet. It began service in 1999.

Its demise will come in the aircraft boneyard in Arizona, but it won’t be its first time there. Delta sent it into retirement in 2011, only to bring it back into service nearly a year later.

The 747 will depart Minneapolis St. Paul tonite at 8:10.

  • Jeff C.

    Why is this such a big deal?

    • The 747s are being retired from regular passenger service, i.e. it’s the end of an (long, long) era. IIRC, Delta is the last US carrier to be using them (and most were from NWA’s fleet when the two companies merged).

      When moving to Japan in June, 1970, we flew on board one of Pan Am’s first 747s used on its Pacific routes, flying from Honolulu to Haneda (Tokyo) on the “Clipper The Sovereign of the Seas”. So the 747 has always be near and dear to my heart.

      [Edited: “Sovereign of the Seas” was acquired by Pan Am on 04/29/1970 and flew with that airline until 1988. Tower Air then acquired it and flew the aircraft until 1996, when it was scrapped]:


    • History. The 747 is a symbol of aviation and technological achievement, which is really remarkable because of the comparative microsecond as history goes, spanning the first flight to now. There really hasn’t been a groundbreaking aircraft since, imho.

      • Jeff

        I don’t keep track of these things but I was surprised they’re coming out with a new SST in a few years https://boomsupersonic.com/.
        Us little people will probably never get to fly on it.

        • flqueenfan

          The Boom project is based here in Colorado; the people behind it actually do intend it to be for “the little people”. Their website says $5000 round trip NYC to London; that’s well under what BA charged for the Concorde, and that was nearly 15 years ago. Obviously the first few years will be spendy, but if it catches on prices should come down.

          • Jeff

            Yes, I wasted umm… productively spent part of my afternoon reading their website. They pay lip service at least to having a economy class eventually (Model 3?). Their arguments are persuasive that it will be much more fuel efficient than the Concorde using new technology that will make it a lot cheaper and most importantly profitable.

    • crystals

      I am just fascinated by big planes in general, maybe because to me it symbolizes adventures to far away places, and the 747 has always seemed like the first BIG plane (to me, at least).

      I’ve got one of the flight tracker apps and whenever I see a big plane in the sky I look to see where it’s flying from and where it’s going to. It gives me a thrill, especially when I’m out on the prairie and see planes overhead on the long journey from Asia to Atlanta. #avgeek

      • I do the same thing. It’s in our DNA to look up and wonder. We inherited that trait and although we’re becoming a civilization that has had it beaten out of us, it’s our instinct to dream.

      • fromthesidelines21

        I have a friend that has an app on his phone that allows you to point the phone at a passing airplane and it will give you the flight tracking info. I think it even show when the international space station is overhead.

      • Jeff

        I do the same thing, My SO gets annoyed.

    • RBHolb

      The 747 wasn’t the first jet airliner, but it made it clear that the Jet Age was here. Air travel, and air travel by jet, was now going to be the norm.

      Besides, it got a shout-out in one of the whiniest songs of all time (“It Never Rains in Southern California”).

      • Heh. I always thought it odd that Steve Miller gave a shoutout to the 707 as “big old jetliner”. but I guess it flowed better rhythmically.

        • In terms of domestic air travel ca. 1974, when “Jet Airliner” was recorded, there were far more 707s flying coast-to-coast and hub-to-hub than 747s. The 747 was, pretty much, scheduled only for international routes into the ’80s, by which time the 757 took up from where the 707 left off for domestic flying.

          Not too many 747s flew exclusively between MSP-ORD or MSP-DET or MSP-SEA, or even MSP-LAX/MSP-SFO/MSP-JFK, without going on to much farther destinations.

        • Also: Rock stars were wont to charter 707s in those days to prove they were rock stars. 😉


          • Jerry

            Makes sense. Rock stars didn’t seem to have much luck with propellor driven aircraft. See: Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, Richie Valens, Otis Redding, and Lynrd Skynyrd.

  • Joseph

    Farewell to the Queen of the Sky’s; one of the most beautiful and graceful aircraft of the modern era. Always will be thankful I got to fly on one over the Atlantic, and got to see the upstairs area during the flight.

  • Zachary

    Not a fan of the 747. Mostly because of my first trip in one. I was returning from my very first overseas trip, and I got the center seat of a bulkhead row on an old Lufthansa bird that looked and smelled like the ‘80’s. I was wedged between sick guy, and sleeps-on-your-shoulder guy for the entire trip. Between that and the bulkhead that my knees were smashed against, and the tv that was directly above me, I’m not too fond of the 747. I’ve had better flights in them since, but nothing like that first impression that really sticks to ya.
    Farewell ye old goat. All hail the A380.

  • Jack

    It was so cool to watch the 747 land this afternoon. I’ve always thought that they look so graceful gliding in.

    Post Road was crowded so we observed from the hill in Fort Snelling Cemetery. Very respectful crowd there.

  • Greg Eppich

    Looks like a lot of the airport workers got a thrill o7t of it and knew the significance of the moment. Pretty cool to see, wish I had had the chance to see one or fly in one.