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Wide-Body: The Triumph of the 747 Hardcover – January, 1993

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Boeing 747, the jetliner which revolutionized air travel, was launched on its first commercial flight in 1970. For the past two decades, it has been the most popular large plane, with the wide body accommodating hundreds of passengers per flight. The exciting story of the events of the four years that led up to the triumphant debut of the 747 is ably told here by Conde Nast Traveler editor Irving. Boeing had made its reputation largely with military aircraft and was the first major company to believe that jets could serve as the civilian planes of the future. In producing the 747, the firm worked jointly with Pan Am, whose enigmatic, quixotic president, Juan Trippe, put constant pressure on the Seattle corporation, according to Irving. The interplay of personalities related here between Trippe and Boeing Chief Bill Allen is interesting, as are the clashes between two types of engineers: formulaic and intuitive. This is business history at its best. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This intriguing book is as much a history of commercial passenger aviation as it is of the development of the Boeing 747 wide-body jet airplane. Given the cast of characters, which is as large as that of War and Peace , remembering who is doing what can be difficult. At times, the story reads like a mystery and at times like a thriller. Behind the different business enterprises of building airplanes and providing air transport for the masses was an unlikely melding of the personalities: CEOs, chief engineers, lawyers, scientists, test pilots, and accountants. It is these diverse personalities who grab and hold the reader's interest, while the author spins his stranger-than-fiction tale of how the plane that couldn't fly not only flew but changed the face of intercontinental air travel. Highly recommended for popular collections.
- Eric C. Shoaf, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (January 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688099025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688099022
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Franklin on January 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a complete history of the stories behind the idea and desire for a large commercial aircraft. It discussess the process of design and why the the Boeing 747 has it majestic shape. It explains how Bill Allen and Juan Tripp "worked together" to bring the idea to Life. It details the pains and triumphs Joe Sutter (project manager) went through to make the the Boeing 747 the safest and largest commerial airliner of it's time. One great book on a great subject!
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By A Customer on July 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great choice to read for anyone, even more so for those interested in commercial aviation. It has elements of drama, and also limits the techno-babble to keep it interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
How in the world do you build a machine that weighs Three-Quarters of a million pounds at take-off to the precision of a fine Swiss Watch?

And did they REALLY decide to make the 747 on a handshake during a fishing trip? You gotta be kidding me.

The technology needed to build this amazing aircraft was developed over a very short period by men who didn't know it couldn't be done. The airplane that was supposed to be a stop-gap between jet aircraft like the 737 and the SuperSonic jets like the Concorde has developed into one of the most used and most loved airframes of all time. This is the story of the machine and the men who created her, told in a thoroughly engrossing way. You will be drawn into the drama, and it's amazing what you will learn about the history of aircraft while you are. One of my favorite contemporary history books.
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Format: Hardcover
Meticulously researched and entertainingly written, Clive Irving provides an insightful history of Boeing's key role in American commercial jet aircraft development from the 1930's through to the 1970's, culminating in the development of the 747 Jumbo Jet. This book thoroughly traces the 747's pedigree, commencing with German WWII jet aircraft technology and gives us a privileged, perceptive view into the individuals that comprised the core engineers, managers and pilots that developed and tamed the swept wing through military and commercial precursors to its culmination in the first wide body commercial jet aircraft. How the Boeing team were forced by Pam Am's CEO and key managers to forge a successful aircraft configuration with wide customer appeal and affordability makes for a fascinating read. Amusing and insightful anecdotes are sprinkled throughout the book to enable us to better understand the key characters and Boeing's corporate style in the 1960's.

While the 747 wings, wheels, fuselage shape and dimensions, seating plan and engines are covered in great detail, other parts of the aircraft such as the flight deck and control and instrumentation design get negligible attention. The 8 page index hardly does the book justice, but for those that wish to explore further, there is a 3 page bibliography. The author has certainly done a commendable job in working out what to include and what to discard to make the book interesting throughout.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent background leading to the jet era and the battle between the competitors for success in sales of commercial jet aircraft. A commercial aviation geek's dream look inside the industry, especially when teamed with Joe Sutter's book "747" from Smithsonian Books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who has some interest in the development of aviation will find this book very informative. It goes into the personalities of the people who were involved it developing this fantastic airplane. The interweaving of these personalities is very interesting. I recommend it as a great read.
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