Probably the oldest 747 aircraft in service may be retiring. Aviation’s original 747 Flying Test Bed is headed to storage – it flew its last flight on January 25 at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operation in Victorville, California. Here is the original aircraft.  (Image @Propfreak Collection)

The aircraft has a long history:  47.5 years ago, MSN 19651 rolled out the assembly building in on October 17, 1969.  The aircraft was line number 25.  First flight was with on March 3, 1970. PanAm flew the aircraft (Clipper Ocean Spray) for 21 years and it accumulated over 86,000 flight hours and 18,000 cycles before GE acquired the aircraft in 1992.

The aircraft was delivered with P&W JT9D engines.  One was removed to test GE engines – the picture shows the GE90 being tested.  There were 11 distinct engine models and 39 engine builds tested.

What a marvelous accomplishment for the Queen of the Skies. GE has a newer 747 as a testbed now as the next image shows.

The new testbed uses GE CF6 engines, so P&W’s role in helping GE are coming to a close.

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