The little 747 who dared to dream

Do they still make children's books with sad endings? Like The Velveteen Rabbit? Because I think I've got a doozy here.

It's all about a 747 who loves to fly. It's what she was built to do and it's what she does best. For years, she soars through the skies, ferrying cargo and, possibly, some nondescript men in nice suits. (Or maybe not. Depends on when she went into service.) But through it all, the little 747 just wants to spend as much time as she can aloft, among the clouds, where she belongs.

But then, one day, the nondescript men in nice suits tell her that it's time she retire. They take her to a place in the desert and leave her there, with lots of other retired planes who've given up and are slowly falling apart. Other men come and they take her engines. Then they take all the beautiful buttons and switches from cockpit. The other planes tell her that, soon, men will come with saws to cut away parts of her fuselage. But the little 747 never breaks. They can take her apart, bit by bit, but they can't take away her dreams. And still, sometimes, in the boneyard, she tries to take to the skies just one last time.

Seriously. Somebody call the Newberry committee.

And bring me a hanky.

Video Link

Thanks to Andrew Balfour for the video, and to Shahv Press for the background on Southern Air.


  1. I don’t really think of The Velveteen Rabbit as having a sad ending.   Bittersweet, perhaps, but it all works out well in the end.

  2. “For once you have tasted flight forever shall you walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
    Leonardo da Vinci

  3. When I saw the video last week, my first thought was, “It’s like a dog thumping its leg as it runs in its dreams.”

  4. And, as the little plane gazed skyward, yearning to be back in the heavens, a thought suddenly occurred to her:
    “If only I had a treadmill! Then, surely, I’d be able to take off!”

  5. Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
    Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    John Gillespie Magee, jr

  6. Buzz Killington here with this aspy tidbit: there’s only one R in “Newbery Committee.”

    1. I’m sure some aeronautics folk have a reason why not but …
      Doesn’t flaps down invoke “dive”? Keep the nose down? If anything I guess that’s how you’d store something like this.Flaps up would mean”climb” – if in flight – or lift against an oncoming wind.- Based only on childhood balsa-wood plane experiments. :-}

      I guess what we are seeing here is not a predicted wind condition.

  7. Yes, why are the flaps down?

    As for the life of these birds, I think 18 hours of flying and 6 hours of maintenance a day are enough to warrant retirement of an aircraft that’s been in service since 1968. Of course these are still being produced, but never the less, some of these birds are just tired.

  8. The story could be a modern version of “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel”!

    The story could be about Phil the pilot and Madeleine the 747. Phil and Madeleine were the best at takeoffs, and all the other pilots learned how to take off from Phil and Madeleine. But after many years in service, Phil the pilot retired, and Madeleine was sent to the boneyard. After seeing her trying to take off in the boneyard, Phil convinced officials Madeleine is too useful to scrap. So Phil and Madeleine are sent to a school for pilots, where Madeleine is converted into a trainer.

    Publishers? Get at me.

  9. I thought the blurb about the kids story was funny, then I watched the video and darn if I didn’t get a little sad. 

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