By Jay Spenser, Joe Sutter

747 is the exciting tale at the back of "the Queen of the Skies"—the Boeing 747—as instructed by way of Joe Sutter, essentially the most celebrated engineers of the 20 th century, who spearheaded its layout and building. Sutter's brilliant narrative takes us again to a time whilst American know-how was once state-of-the-art and jet shuttle used to be nonetheless glamorous and new. With wit and heat, he offers an insider's feel of the bigger than life-size personalities—and the tensions—in the aeronautical global.

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The pilots had to dodge artillery shells being fired into the area as they bombed one village so that the Marines could enter it. Moments later the second encampment was also targeted. The extraordinarily high mission totals (656 combat sorties for October 1967 alone) inevitably increased attrition, and one of those forced to abandon his jet was VMFA-323’s squadron commander, Lt Col Gordon H Keller Jr. He was leading a pair of F-4Bs out of Chu Lai in heavy rain on 18 April when his aircraft’s electrical systems failed completely.

For the A-4 the cable went under the “ears”, and for the F-4 they did not. ‘Because all of this was going on under the aircraft, the flight crew couldn’t observe the process. After what seemed to be a long period of time, with Marines running back and forth underneath our aircraft, they finally gave us a “thumbs up” and signalled to extend the nose-gear strut – a procedure used on ship and land catapults to ensure proper angle of attack on launch. Full power applied with afterburners, I saluted for launch.

VMFA-115 kept up the pressure during this period by expending an average of 52 tons of ordnance daily, although the unit was committed to ten separate operations and also had to keep the air-to-air hot-pad active, all with just ten Phantom IIs. In April, with better weather, eight of VMFA-115’s F-4Bs passed the 200 mission total. Many of these sorties were like the 15 April flight by Maj J W Moore’s section, which dropped 16 M117 bombs on a tunnel and bunker complex near Gio Linh, causing considerable destruction and secondary explosions.

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