Pilot for 40 years reveals why his favorite aircraft was the Boeing 747-400

  • A veteran pilot has spoken out on his favorite aircraft
  • It’s the Boeing 747-400 that he has a soft spot for
  • But the reason why might surprise you

Published on Jun 19, 2024 at 5:12 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Jun 20, 2024 at 12:57 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

A veteran pilot has spoken out on why the Boeing 747-400 is his favorite ever aircraft – and here’s why.

Being the controls for over four decades for both the British Royal Air Force and British Airways means he’s earned his wings – and then some.

And, despite all the aircraft he’s flown, the Boeing 747-400 – aka the Jumbo – is above all others.

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Why the Boeing 747-400?

 As a retired captain of Airbus A380/A320 and Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo’ captain, Martin Chalk is often asked which he prefers to pilot and be a passenger on.

“My favorite aircraft overall is a Boeing – the 747 or ‘Jumbo’,” he admitted to iNews.

Having traveled from Tokyo to Los Angeles and around Africa and Asia on board and at the helm he admits that it is the epitome of the word ‘awesome’.

“It was both comfortable and quirky, with a surprisingly small, Boeing-brown cockpit and reasonable pilot rest facilities,” he said.

“I flew the fourth iteration of its development, the 747-400 series, meaning some aspects were modern, such as TV screens instead of the round instruments, while others survived from much earlier models – such as the plumbing.”

The benefits of fly-by-wire

Sandwiching his 11 years aboard the Jumbo, he was flying the Airbus A320 and A380 ‘Superjumbo’.

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Both ‘fly-by-wire’ aircraft, they allow the pilots’ commands to be interpreted by flight control computers before being transmitted to the aircraft control surfaces.

“This means the computers can limit pilot actions, which initially felt as though my professional abilities were being questioned – but I soon realized that it meant I was free to use all the aircraft’s capabilities,” he admitted.

Effective and safe, it has a bigger control column to physically pull cables to move flying control surfaces.

A Dutch pilot recently shared cockpit footage of landing a Boeing 737 in crosswind.

What’s more, it drastically reduces weight – and therefore costs for airlines – making the Boeing 737-400 more of a ‘sports car’ than a ‘bus’.

Another plus is that they can be flown three to six times a day rather than a couple of times a week for longer distances like bigger aircraft including the Boeing 777/747 or Airbus A350/A380.

You can see this footage of the Boeing 747 performing an intricate landing with a series of complex maneuvers.


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.