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Delta Sunsets 747 Line, Last One Lands At MSP

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- She's known as the Queen of the Skies. Wednesday, she made her final touchdown at MSP International.

Delta is giving its Boeing 747s a farewell tour as it retires its use of the aircraft.

Flight 9771 took a final lap around our airport before it touched down at 12:30 Monday afternoon. The 747 changed air travel. And was a huge part of Northwest Airlines' fleet.

Retired Northwest pilot Tom Ambrose showed up to watch.

"It opened up the world to a lot of people who never flew before," Ambrose said. "It was the first super-sized jumbo jet that Boeing ever built. Anybody built. Anybody built and flew successfully since about 1970."

Not many arrival gates look and sound like this, but on Monday G9 at MSP did.  People cheered as they exited the plane.

"It was fabulous, it was just great. You know, bringing the bird home loved it, loved it," one woman squealed.

This flight wasn't about the destination it was about the arrival, and dozens of people showed up to watch from Cargo Road.

"I've been out here several times for landings and I've never seen a crowd this big," spectator Jay Pfander said.

Inherited from Northwest's fleet, the famous humpbacked plane circled the city where it first took off and then landed one last time.

Jakob Michel, an aviation student, watched with binoculars.

"Seeing it actually physically land as a spectator is just truly amazing," Michel said.

Especially for those who got to escort her home. Delta flight attendants, ramp workers, pilots and frequent fliers filled the plane made famous for its speedy international travel.

"It was amazing just to fly on the last one of the iconic aircraft like that, then to go around the city, circle the city one time," Froslan said.

Bill Lentsch, S.V.P. of Delta Connection & Delta Global Service, was onboard too.

"To know what this airplane has done for Northwest and Delta, basically for the Twin Cities here, it put the Twin Cities on the global map, on the international map," Lentsch said.

Stephen Hanlon piloted this historic mission of mixed emotion.

"Everybody thinks it's a big celebration and celebratory but you know, it's very sad," Hanlon said.

Part of the mixed emotion -- it's the end of an era for Northwest since the 747 pilots came over from Northwest.

The plane as you saw is huge -- five seats in the middle aisle -- but several of the pilots WCCO talked to say it was an incredibly easy plane to fly. But it's out with the old and in with a new more fuel efficient plane.  The Airbus 350 will take over for the 747.

Last month we got a look at Delta's new flagship aircraft that will replace the 747 as it landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International.

Some of the improvements include wider windows, LED lights and the seats in the main cabin have memory foam cushions and seatback screens.

But the biggest change is a new business class cabin called Delta One.

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