British Airways B747 Flight
British Airways B747 Flight

The Final British Airways B747 Flight – End of an Era

British Airways last remaining Boeing 747 took to the sky for a final time on Friday 11th December.

The BOAC Gold Speedbird retro livery B747-400, registration G-BYGC, flew from Cardiff Airport to eCube Solutions at Bro Tathan business park in St Athan, to be preserved.

I traveled all the way from Dubai to Wales, just to say farewell to the iconic B747. Here are some pictures and the video from the day.

The weather wasn't great to start with. Flight BA747 took off from Cardiff at 13:37, she climbed to 5,800 ft and flew around the coast before the weather improved for the visual landing. Her last flight lasted just 21 minutes.

a screenshot of a map

Spectacular "Short Field" Landing

As the weather had finally decided to co-operate, the B747 was able to find a gap between the showers in which to begin her descent. The pilots kept the nose high after touch down and pulled up quickly on the short 2km runway, it brought tears to my eyes.

Watch the spectacular landing in the tweet below.

The airport fire services gave a water cannon salute to the Queen of the Sky. Everyone at the airport stood still to watch her going past to her final stand.

a jet plane spraying water on runway
a large airplane on a runway
a large airplane on a runway
a large airplane on a runway
a man standing in front of an airplane

Since entering BA's fleet on 20th January 1999 the aircraft has flown 45m miles and completed over 11,049 flights, for a total of 91,023 hours.

The Last Goodbye

It wasn't a big media event, it was rather personal. I was among the first to enter the B747 and meet up with the pilot. My Air747 book co-author Charles Kennedy was with me.

I felt honoured to be able to record the last power down of the B747. There will be a final video out next week.

a group of people in a cockpit

The flight deck crew: Captain Richard Allen-Williams (his landing), Captain Di Wooldridge, Captain Allister Bridger and Captain Arun Sharma

a group of people in the cockpit of an airplane
a group of people wearing masks and standing in front of an airplane
a group of people wearing face masks standing in front of an airplane
a group of people in uniform standing in front of a plane
The last B747 flight deck crew: (L to R) Captain Arun Sharma, Captain Richard Allen-Williams, Captain Di Wooldridge, Captain Allister Bridger
a woman in uniform standing in front of an airplane
Captain Di Wooldridge
a group of people standing on stairs with a picture of an airplane

The painting I am holding in the photo is an original painting of BOAC B747-100 from the 1970 (from the Collection of Charles Kennedy).

a man holding a picture in front of an airplane

All 4 pilots signed a special BOAC 747 livery model, this will be a gift to the underprivileged children at BA's annual Dreamflight event.

a man wearing a mask and holding a box with a plane in it

She said Yes on the 747!

There was an unexpected surprise for cabin crew Philippa when her boyfriend Scott (a flight dispatcher) proposed to her inside the B747. Congratulations to Scott and Philippa!

a man wearing a safety vest and a mask
a man and woman in uniform
a group of people wearing masks and standing in a plane
a large airplane with engines and a ladder

End of An Era

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO, said: "This final 747 journey is a bittersweet moment for the many thousands of British Airways customers, and crew, who have flown the world on these Queens of the Sky over the last five decades".

“But while we will certainly miss their majestic presence in the skies above, knowing our last 747 will be preserved for future generations, to enjoy at a new home in Wales, gives us a great sense of pride and is a fitting end to this chapter of British Airways' history.”

“I've been watching the 17 or so 747s that were stored at Cardiff leave and, to be honest, every time one leaves I get a tear in my eye. It was my office for some 30 years... it's just such an iconic aeroplane and a delightful aeroplane to fly from a pilot's point of view.”

Former BA pilot Catherine Burton told BBC Radio Wales

I am so grateful I was able to be a part of the last movement of a BA 747, a story stretching back half a century. It’s sad to think that it’s over. Was it the happiest event where I cried? Or the saddest event where I was thrilled to be in the company of such like-minded aviators and friends? At least we were there to say goodbye and mark the end of an epic era.

Personally, it is the 747 that was the plane that started my love of aviation. It was truly a bittersweet day. I felt sad, but delighted to see the final farewell she deserved. Goodbye 747.

I will be showing all the details of yesterdays event in an upcoming video next week.