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Cathay Pacific

So long, 747! Hongkongers bid fond farewell to jet whose rise coincided with city’s

Final flight over Victoria Harbour draws spectators and elicits outpouring of memories on social media

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 October, 2016, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2016, 1:55pm

Hongkongers bade an emotional farewell to Cathay Pacific’s last Boeing 747 on Saturday, marking the close of an eventful chapter in the city’s collective memory.

As the “queen of the skies” soared across Victoria Harbour for the very last time, local residents snapped photos of the plane that took many of them outside of the then-rising financial hub for the first time when the city’s flagship airline bought the jet in 1979.

“Thanks for a chance for a final farewell!” netizen Denise Ho wrote on Cathay Pacific Airways’ Facebook page. “CX 747s brought me and my family between Hong Kong and our stays in the US and Canada during my childhood ... I’ll miss my time on the upper deck!” Ho also posted a picture of the plane powering over the sky on Saturday.

The airline’s CX8747 flight left Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday morning, passing over the site of the former airport in Kai Tak as well as Lei Yue Mun before touching down 60 minutes later.

Cathay Pacific staff comprised the 300 passengers on board. Each had made a minimum donation of HK$747 to take the historic flight.

“Bye, queen. Your legend started in Kai Tak. Good to see your last flight,” Ron Tse wrote on the airline’s Facebook page.

Anthony Chan wrote: “You left but stay in our memory forever.”

“Remember the old 747?” wrote another on the page earlier this week. “Cramped seating, no videos, smoking in the back of the plane! At least two stops between London and Hong Kong.”

 

Social media was flooded with photos of the 747, snapped by fans from various vantage points including The Peak and Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.

Cathay Pacific took delivery of its first 747 – a 200 model – in August 1979, nine years after American airline Pan Am became the first to use the aircraft.

In 1998, the first plane to land at the current airport was a Cathay Pacific 747-400, operating the first ever non-stop passenger flight from New York to Hong Kong. That was an epic 15-hour, 35-minute journey over the North Pole.

The 747, of which 1,523 have been built worldwide since 1968, was more than just an upgrade. It was transformative and revolution­ary, helping generate a boom in international travel and playing a role in turning Cathay Pacific from a regional airline to a global one. It put Hong Kong within easier grasp of millions of tourists and other visitors.

The airline is inviting fans to post photos of the 747’s last flight on Saturday on its Facebook page. The person judged to have taken the best image will win a 747-8F aircraft model, autographed by the late Joe Sutter, Boeing’s chief engineer who is remembered as the “father of the 747”.