747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation
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747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  24 reviews
747 is the thrilling story behind "the Queen of the Skies"—the Boeing 747—as told by Joe Sutter, one of the most celebrated engineers of the twentieth century, who spearheaded its design and construction. Sutter's vivid narrative takes us back to a time when American technology was cutting-edge and jet travel was still glamorous and new. With wit and warmth, he gives an in...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published May 23rd 2006)
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What’s The Point?

This book is a wide ranging autobiography written by Joe Sutter, the head of the project that created the 747 aircraft design. It covers his early life, growing up in Seattle, and the rise of aviation. Sutter was interested in planes since he was a young child; his room was covered with dozens of model planes. He came to understand the dynamics of flight by watching every airplane he could. He studied aeronautical engineering in college, before joining the military for WWII. Aft...more
As you can see from the cover, this book is discussed how the Boeing 747, or the "Jumbo Jet" was made. Joe Sutter, the author of this book, was an engineer who worked at Boeing and he also contributed to the designing of the 747. He and his team had struggles while making this plane. For example, he had to make the plane as light as possible and he needed a plane with big floor area. Joe Sutter fixes all the problems one by one and in the end, the plane was commercialized.
What I enjoyed the most...more
747 clearly describes the challenges and triumph being a leading aerodynamic designer in the 747 engineering team at Boeing. Joe Sutter's autobiography and biography on the 747 and aviation from the 30s to today. As a child, Joe Sutter lived near the old Boeing factory in the thirties and saw Clippers, B-17s, Stratoliners, Model 299, and served in the Navy during WWII. He later went to McDonoald Douglas and back to Boeing to work on Stratocruisers and the 707, the "granddaddy" of all modern jetl...more
This is an interesting look at the creation of the 747 written by the director of engineering on the project. It combines both discussion of the process and aviation at the time with some of the corporate politics.

It is funny to hear about PanAm as the big player who called the shots. Also, tucked at the end is a chapter on how Sutter served on the presidential commission investigating the Challenger disaster, which is interesting.

The writing is a bit stilted, but it actually rings as if an 80 y...more
Informative look at the building of the world's first wide-body airplane, from one of the leaders within Boeing who helped build it. Gives basic insight on earlier Boeing jets, as well as how Joe Sutter worked his way up through the company. The latter 2/3 of the book focuses on the 747, from the design phase with customer meetings with prominent aviation icons like Juan Trippe and Charles Lindburgh, through the engineering stage, to the flight test stage.

This is an easy and enlightening read fo...more
Jun 08, 2008 Viggin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who likes to learn about "stuff"
I thought it was a fantastic book. I have read similar books before, but they were told from the perspective of an author who came in as a fly on the wall to watch the development process unfold. 747, in contrast, was written by the actual head of design and engineering for the plane.

The most interesting factoid I believe I learned from this book was that nobody ever imagined or expected the 747 to ever become the landmark success that it became. At the time of it's development supersonic jets (...more
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Joe Sutter is clearly a nice guy, and his “life in aviation” – as the subtitle puts it – was certainly interesting. Growing up in the shadow of the Boeing aircraft plant in the 1920s and 30s, he joined the company as an engineer soon after World War II: in time to work on the last of the company’s propeller-driven airliners (the Stratoliner), participate in the birth of the 707, and become the chief engineer of the epoch-making 747. Jay Spenser, the writer he collaborated with on the book, shape...more
Jean Poulos
I found this book fascinating but, of course, I love airplanes. I enjoyed reading about all the details about designing and building the 747. I remember when I first saw the Constellation I thought it was one of the most beautiful planes I had seen. When I saw the 747 I knew this one was absolutely the most beautiful. Joe Sutter tells about his youth growing up near Boeing Field and his desire as a child to design planes. He also tells about his summer jobs at Boeing when he was at University of...more
Probably 3.5 stars -- a first-hand account from the man in charge of the creation of the 747. I picked this one up from the "new books" in the library and it was engaging enough even for me, someone who knows very little about planes and has only been in a 747 once (or maybe twice?). I found it fascinating how the 747 was not really a priority -- the supersonic jets were going to be the wave of the future -- and how the designers had to overcome the assumption that the plane would be a doubledec...more
Juan Trippe of Pan Am put quite a bit of money into this airplane and was supposed to get the first two years of Boeing's production.


They had trouble with the engines for about the first year and a half and Pan Am's planes just sat there carrying no one.

So this 747 that could never have been built without Juan Trippe's money turned out to be the ruin of Pan Am and Juan Trippe because now the competition got their 747s at the same time and Pan Am simply could not compete with them.
An intriguing memoir from the lead designer of the 747. Don't expect this to be a broad look at Boeing's efforts or the impact of the 747 on the global aviation industry: this is a personal account from Joe Sutter's point of view, largely a series of connected stories that took place leading up to and during his time leading the design team. That said, a good read; if I could give this 3.5 stars, I would.
Bharath Kumar
If you are an aircraft fan then this book is a must read. From the pre-drawing board moments to the very launch of the 747 the author has given us a very vivid and interesting description of the situations. Joe Sutter was not liked by everyone at Boeing when he was working on the 747 project and was often sidelined from the mainstream. Yet his machine is still relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
Dan Ward
Very interesting story on the development of the 747 and the subsequent changes made to the design. This is an amazing story of the development of the wide body jet and how Boeing stood up to its customers to do it right. If you like aviation you will really enjoy this book.

Now I have to figure out how to take a ride on one of those big birds!
This memoir by the engineer who headed the development of the original Boeing 747 was a fun read full of facts and stories likely of interest to people who like to travel, especially internationally. While the writing is not very stylish, the author's enthusiasm for his work and his pride in his team's creation comes across on almost every page.
Laird Bennion
A fun, light read. The real treat here is to hear Sutter chalk his remarkable career up to luck and other peoples' talents as well as his own, a remarkable departure for this genre if chest-thumping career-tombstones. A modest and responsible narrator sets this book apart. And the design details are lots of fun.
The Geekster
A first hand account by the chief engineer of the 747 and what it was like to design airplanes before the modern computer age. This is a excellent book that recounts the history of the building of the second longest flying airplane still in production. A must have for any pilot or aviation enthusiast.
Joe Sutter, the Father of the 747, has to be one of the all-time greats in the history of commercial aircraft development. I enjoyed learning the details of many of the game-changing decisons on the path to creating the mighty 747.
Joe Sutter writes an amazing narrative on the genesis of the Boeing 747. It contains heroes and villians, setbacks, and tribulations. In the end we see just what it took for Boeing to give birth to the "Queen of the Skies".
Somehow, when I became an aerospace engineer, this is what I thought my job and my life would be like. The author was clearly at the right place and time for these dreams... A true aeronautical engineer's life experiences.
For anyone who's an aviation buff, this book is a must read. The author thinks a little too highly of his managerial skills, which go against many things learned in business school, but it's a good read nonetheless.
Jeff Wadler
Interesting story. But more on design and testing and less on politics at a big company would have been more intersting
Alysia Priami
Absolutely fantastic book, smooth, entertaining and factual.
excellent book. well written, informative and interesting
Sham Chukoury
Sham Chukoury marked it as to-read
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Kent marked it as to-read
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