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Thu, Sep 13, 2012

Boeing's First Jumbo Jet Needs Extensive, Expensive Rehabilitation

Seattle Museum Of Flight Hopes To Raise Money To Restore The Airplane, And A New Building In Which To House Her

The first Boeing 747, RA001, sits quietly mouldering in a parking lot across from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and museum officials say it needs extensive renovations ... as well as a permanent home.

The airplane is described in great detail in an article appearing in The Seattle Times. The airplane is reportedly an empty shell exposing much of the infrastructure that makes it work. It reportedly flew some 12,000 test cycle flights, and shows its age. The cockpit is full of steam gauges, manual flight controls, and an actual station for a flight engineer. A headset is still lying next to the seats, as if it had just landed.

The museum does not have a full cost estimate for a complete restoration of the airplane to "flight test" condition. One museum official, Dan Hagedorn, the Museum of Flight's senior curator, said just repairing the interior, which has been damaged by moisture and age, would run in the neighborhood of $1.2 million. He said no museum has ever undertaken a restoration project as large as the 747 would be. But even more expensive would be building a facility that would keep this airplane, and others, out of the legendary Seattle rain.

That project is estimated to ring the cash register at about $125 million, and Hagedorn says the museum has not found even the seed money to get the project underway.

FMI: www.museumofflight.org

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