Home Classic Airliners Boeing 747 at 50. These are the Oldest 747s in Existence

Boeing 747 at 50. These are the Oldest 747s in Existence

by Matt Falcus

The Boeing 747 first flew 50 years ago on February 9, 1969.

That day was a great celebration for Boeing and the thousands of onlookers at Everett Paine Field north of Seattle.


The first aircraft to be delivered was N733PA to Pan Am as “Clipper Young America”, which entered service on 13 December 1969.

The 747 has gone on to become one of civil aviation’s biggest success stories, with over 1,500 examples built to date over a number of variants.

We thought we’d take a look at the oldest Boeing 747s still in existence, and even the oldest ones still flying.



The Oldest 747s in Existence

    1. N7470 747-121 (20235/1) Prototype
      The original prototype is now on display at the Museum of Flight, Seattle.
    2. N747PA 747-121 (19639/2) Clipper Juan T Trippe
      Existed on display in South Korea for many years. Now being turned into a church in truncated form in Namyangju.
    3. EP-CQB 747-121 (19667/5) Caspian Airlines
      The fifth 747 built is still thought to be active with this government operator in Iran.
    4. 5-8106 747-121 (19669/9) Iran Air Force
      Believed stored but still in existence at Tehran Mehrabad airport.
    5. N747GE 747-121 (19651/25) General Electric
      Famous GE engine testbed that spent years at Mojave recently retired to Davis-Monthan for preservation at Tucson’s Pima Air & Space Museum.
    6. N601US 747-151 (19778/27) Northwest Airlines
      The front section and ‘hump’ of this classic is on display in Washington DC’s National Air & Space Museum.


  1. N481EV 747-132 (19896/72) Evergreen International
    Resides on the roof of the Evergreen Aviation Museum at McMinnville, OR.
  2. EP-NHT 747-131 (19678/78) Iran Air Force
    Also believed to be stored at Tehran Mehrabad airport in Iran.
  3. 5-8103 747-131 (20080/80) Iran Air Force
    The second oldest active 747. Used by the Iran Air Force as a tanker, based at Tehran.
  4. N905NA 747-123 (20107/86) NASA
    Originally flying for American Airlines, this aircraft became a Space Shuttle Carrier in 1970 and was retired in 2014. You can see it at the Johnson Space Center at Houston, TX.


What about later models?

You’ll notice that the ten oldest Boeing 747s in existence are all the original -100 model. But later came the -200, -300, -400 and SP variants. So where are the oldest versions of these that we can see?


N303TW (20116/112) is the oldest -200 model still in existence at the time of writing. It is stored at Victorville, CA, and interestingly has the older style of three windows on the upper deck which was increased with later -200s.

Boeing 747-244B 'ZS-SAN'

The oldest preserved example of a -200 is ZS-SAN (20239/160) of South African Airways. It is on display at aviation museum at Rand, South Africa.

The oldest active example, albeit a much-modified version of the -200, are the US Air Force’s E-4B fleet, with 73-1676 (20682/202) based at Omaha AFB and dating from 1973.




At the time of writing the oldest 747-300 still in existence is N792BA (23026/580) which previously flew with Ansett Australia and is now stored at Marana Pinal Airpark in poor condition.

The second-oldest, HS-UTW (23067/588) of Orient Thai Airways, is also stored at Bangkok Don Mueang airport in Thailand.

Mahan Air in Iran still has one Boeing 747-300, EP-MND (23413/632) which is believed active and flying the airline’s schedules out of Tehran. This is your last chance to fly a classic 747.



The smaller ‘Special Performance’ version of the 747 was built in much smaller numbers, but continued operating for a long time.

In fact, one example still flying as NASA’s SOFIA flying observatory, N747NA (21441/306), based at Edwards AFB, CA.


Another is the Saudi Arabian Government’s VIP aircraft HZ-HM1B (21652/329).

HZ-HM1B - Boeing 747SP-68 - STN

The oldest examples still in existence at the time of writing at Iran Air’s fleet, which were retired recently are stored at Tehran Imam Khomeini airport. They are EP-IAA (20998/275), EP-IAB (20999/278), EP-IAC (21093/307), EP-IAD (21758/371).



Still in widespread use around the world, airlines are steadily reducing and retiring their fleets of 747-400s. Many find new life as freighters.


The oldest example in existence is the prototype, N661US (23719/696) which originally flew for Northwest Airlines and later Delta Airlines. It is now on display at the Delta Heritage Museum in Atlanta, GA following retirement in 2016.

British Airways recently announced it would retire its 747-400 fleet by February 2024, but not before it paints some examples in historic liveries to mark its 100th birthday.

Today the Boeing 747 remains in production in the -8 model, mostly built as freighters for the world’s cargo airlines, but at a much reduced production rate compared to days gone by.




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David Bennett February 11, 2019 - 10:15 am

I understood from airliners.net that the Iranian B747SP were all scrapped in 2018.

Matt Falcus February 11, 2019 - 2:59 pm

Thanks David. Can anyone confirm? I saw a picture of them all at Tehran recently.

Jan Moester February 11, 2019 - 5:21 pm

Thanks for your wonderful articles!
Just FYI: Years ago I came across a company called MAX AIR (VM) in Nigeria that operates 4 B747’s – I am not sure which type. I heard that they had bought them from JAL and that they use them mainly for Hadj flights (to Mecca). Their website states that they still operate them.

Rajeev Dhawan February 12, 2019 - 6:13 am

Matt, pl publish a book of photographs on the 747 for its 50th birthday.

Mike Prendergast February 12, 2019 - 10:25 pm

Dont forget the Qantas 747-200B at Longreach,Queensland,Australia!

Matt Falcus February 13, 2019 - 10:49 am

Thanks Mike! VH-EBQ was a relatively late -200B, built in 1979. But it’s a great museum!

mike prendergast February 12, 2019 - 10:38 pm

Qantas bird is VH-EBQ sn410

kazi riasat alve October 13, 2019 - 5:58 am

VP-BAT was built in 1979 was in service for qatari Amir until 2018. Now it is in Arizona for c-check, looking for a potential buyer.

Nura Faggo November 1, 2019 - 4:28 pm

@Jan Moesta, you are right. The operate 747-400. I flew on 2 of them to Hajj this year (2019).

Phil November 7, 2019 - 4:24 pm

I think there is an SP still flying with the Royal Flight in Bahrain

Gary November 27, 2019 - 1:33 pm

Sheldon Adelson’s private SP based out of Las Vegas is another.

Kevin December 14, 2019 - 3:11 pm

South African airways museum has the only preserved 747sp Zs-SPC in the same museum as the 747-200

Dan whitler February 22, 2020 - 8:40 pm

My 1st flight was United 747 Ord to hnl named the original 8 after the first 8 flight attendants does anyone know what happened to the plane. Much thanks

Hollis wayne Hall February 26, 2020 - 3:50 pm

Three of the oldest 747-400BCFs are being flown by Kalitta Air.

Dan July 21, 2020 - 7:42 am

Admittedly this isn’t recent but I flew on a QUANTAS SP in ’98 from Perth to Sydney. Much more exciting than the – 400 used to get to Oz as the upstairs was for economy passengers and IFE on that deck was a projector displayed on the bulkhead! Gotta love old tech!

Matt Falcus July 21, 2020 - 1:27 pm

Fantastic. Thanks Dan!

David Porter July 22, 2020 - 10:05 pm

I am South African and flew scores of times on the 5 SAA 747-200 SUPER B, one if which,the Lebombo, is located at the SAA Museum at Rand Airport.
Sadly , a SAA 747-200 COMBI,the Helderberg, crashed near Mauritius , from a fire in board.
I flew on the HELDERBERG a few times from JNB to TPE, return to JNB.
I also flew frequently on the SAA 747 SP,s.
All beautiful, all the best aircraft ever built.
Then , SAA was the showpiece of world aviation.
Sad how the ANC destroyed a great airline in a few years.
Like they are doing to my beloved country.

JOHN DUNN July 22, 2020 - 11:48 pm

I was a customer service agent for Northwest Airlines up until the NWA/Delta marriage in 2007. There was nothing like watching the plane take off everyday for the Detroit-Tokyo flight twice daily.

Mark Davies July 26, 2020 - 7:24 pm

The only time I flew on BA 747’s was LHR to BOS and return in 1991. Is there anyone that keeps records of which planes flew which flights back then as I’d like to know which 747’s I flew on.

James Anderson September 27, 2020 - 10:05 am

Flight test program 747 back in1969,
Great plane. First flight for me was on 002 to New Mexico for brake testing. Fully loaded three touch and goes with full stop no thrust reverser and no flaring. Passed with flying colors

M. Fauzan F. November 25, 2020 - 8:21 am

Bagaimana dengan EP-AJT, Boeing 747-131 Iran Air?

Michael Hayden December 12, 2020 - 10:03 pm

QANTAS first B747-400 (438) VH-OJA is preserved at the HARS Aviation Museum at Shellharbour airport. It was the twelfth 400 built by Boeing in 1989 it flew London to Sydney nonstop in 20hrs 9 min 5 seconds.

John June 12, 2021 - 3:03 am

You may have forgotten JumboStay in Stockholm Arlanda, a former SQ & Pan Am 747-200 built in 1976 is converted into a hotel

Olav January 10, 2022 - 1:02 am

Geo Sky in Tiblisi, Georgia is operating 2 747-200 cargo conversions on a daily basis. Very well maintained and in mint condition.

Ralph L Sherlock (Author) February 20, 2022 - 10:38 am

British Airways 747-436’s have been preserved at Kemble and Dunkeswell. One is preserved at Kemble for Film productions.

Ralph L Sherlock (Author) February 20, 2022 - 10:43 am

While at Abu Dhabi in November 2019, we had a visit from the Bahrain Government Boeing 747-4P8, A9C-HMK. Also in August 2019, we spotted a number of AirBridge 747’s including 400’s and 8’s at Moscow Sheremetyevo, and Rossiya Airlines 400’s (ex Transaero) at Moscow Vnukovo.


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