Boeing has delivered its final 747.
The handoff of a 747-8F freighter was made to Atlas Air on Tuesday. The aircraft was the 1,574th Boeing 747 delivered over 53 years of production.
"To see our aircraft on this big stage is a very proud moment for all of us at Atlas Air," the cargo carrier's CEO John Dietrich said during a commemorative event at the Boeing hangar in Everett, Wash.
With 56 747s, Atlas is world biggest operator of the legendary jumbo jet.
During the event, airline and aerospace industry dignitaries praised the "Queen of the Skies" and shared their memories of the aircraft.
"I was so proud to be a small part of something as great as this new airplane," said Carolyn Corvi, a retired Boeing vice president who worked on development of the 747-400 variant.
Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr said that he flew on a 747 on Monday from Frankfurt to San Francisco, just as he did many years ago when he made his first trip to the U.S.
Spohr said he fell in love with the 747 on that first trip, just as he fell in love with the U.S.
"The 747 represents what this country is about," he said. "Pride. Strength. Engineering. And my love has continued to this day."
The aircraft, said Spohr, made the world smaller.
John Roundhill, a former vice president of product strategy and development at Boeing, talked of how the 747 reshaped commercial aviation.
"All of the sudden, people could travel in an incredibly roomy airplane that gave them the impression of their living room taking off," he said.
Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson bid "farewell to a wonderful beast," Reuters reported. He founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984 with a leased secondhand 747 that was christened the Maiden Voyager. Branson said the 747 "gave America and Boeing the leadership role in aviation."
The 747 made its commercial debut on Pan Am in 1970 and was the first twin-aisle passenger plane.
Along with cargo airlines worldwide, numerous passenger airlines continue to fly the plane, although none in the U.S.