747: The Jumbo Revolution

Genre: History, Science & Engineering

Duration: 1x60/90

Year of Production: 2014

Production Company: Arrow Media

Broadcaster: Smithsonian

Definition: HD

With its distinctive hump, the 747 is the most recognisable airliner on the planet. The world’s first wide-bodied jet; but it is much more than just a big aeroplane... We look at how this giant transformed our world when it first took to the skies in 1970 - Its massive capacity slashed the cost of air travel creating a web of international hub airports. Now it has transported the equivalent of 80% of the human race on more than 100,000 round trips to the moon.

But creating the 747 was a billion dollar gamble that stretched technology to the limits – and brought the mighty Boeing Company to the edge of bankruptcy. Test pilot Brien Wygle tells how on the first flight they hooked up car batteries as back-ups in case of engine failure but their biggest challenge came from Boeing itself. The company's heart – and resources - were in a Mach-busting supersonic plane. The 747 was the underdog, to be relegated to freight when it was introduced.

Series 1: 1x60/90 | HD | 2014