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747: Creating the World's First Jumbo…

747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a… (edition 2007)

by Joe Sutter, Jay Spenser

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945196,926 (3.55)1
"Almost everything about the 747 would be unprecedented. Its cabin would be so wide that it would need two aisles. Its horizontal tail would be bigger than the wings of most airliners ever built. Jet engines big enough to lift it off the ground didn't yet exist. Runways at the world's airports couldn't handle it, and neither could Boeing's factories. They had to erect the world's largest building just to produce it. A truly mammoth undertaking, the 747 became one of the most successful airplane models ever." "Joseph Sutter's narrative takes us back to a time when American technology was cutting-edge - the 747 came on the market the same year that men first set foot on the moon - the jet travel was still glamorous and new. He gives an insider's sense of the larger-than-life-size personalities - and the tensions - in the aeronautical world. Ultimately, 747 is a story of grit and glory."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
Title:747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation
Authors:Joe Sutter
Other authors:Jay Spenser
Info:Collins (2007), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Bio / Autobio / Memoir, Read in 2009

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747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation by Joe Sutter



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What’s The Point?

This book is a wide ranging autobiography written by Joe Sutter, the head of the project that created the 747 aircraft design. It covers his early life, growing up in Seattle, and the rise of aviation. Sutter was interested in planes since he was a young child; his room was covered with dozens of model planes. He came to understand the dynamics of flight by watching every airplane he could. He studied aeronautical engineering in college, before joining the military for WWII. After the war, he joined up with Boeing and never left! His career at Boeing is a engaging tale of focus and ambition to work on something meaningful. Eventually the 747 project came along and his hard work paid off, allowing him to build the most recognizable aircraft ever.

How Was It?

A very good not-to-technical read. Sutter tells much of his life story and keeps a very positive attitude. I learned many interesting ideas around airplane design.

Who Should Read It?

Anyone interested in engineering, managing projects, aircraft, or the history of aviation. It provides a detailed look at the 747 project and much of the poltiics of such a large project, but also how many of the engineering challenges were overcome. Sutter offers many interesting anecdotes on different airplanes, drawn from a wide range of knowledge, that is easy to learn from. ( )
  askedrelic | Aug 31, 2019 |
Joe Sutter is clearly a nice guy, and his “life in aviation” – as the subtitle puts it – was certainly interesting. Growing up in the shadow of the Boeing aircraft plant in the 1920s and 30s, he joined the company as an engineer soon after World War II: in time to work on the last of the company’s propeller-driven airliners (the Stratoliner), participate in the birth of the 707, and become the chief engineer of the epoch-making 747. Jay Spenser, the writer he collaborated with on the book, shapes the story well, and the prose flows easily.

Unfortunately, whether because of the kind of person Sutter is or because of the way Spenser tells his story, a feeling of shallow slickness to the narrative. The chapters on Sutter’s childhood and World War II naval service are sketchy, and the connections drawn between them and his later life mostly banal. Sutter’s descriptions of his interactions with colleagues feel like the “official” version, told and retold until all the rough edges (and much of the texture) have been worn away by repetition. His decisions always turn out to be right, conflicts within his team are always easily resolved, and even his severest criticisms – of Pan Am president Juan Trippe for cutthroat business practices, or Boeing for an ill-advised motivational program – seem mild and muted. Very little of the interpersonal history here feels like the view from the “inside.”

The book does, however, offer readers interested in the history of postwar commercial aviation a steady stream of insights into how and why the Boeing family of airliners, and the 747 in particular, evolved the way it did. Other books have done both more rigorously and comprehensively, but 747 is a quick, easy read, and memoirs of aircraft engineers are scarce enough that – if such things interest you – it’s worth picking up. ( )
  ABVR | Aug 22, 2013 |
A very quick read. The author seems like a very nice man. He was very polite and lots of kind words to say about people. Got some info about building the 747 and life at Boeing. Didnt think it warranted a full length book though. ( )
  bermandog | Oct 17, 2012 |
This was an excellent book. I really enjoyed it. It give a great insight into what it takes to assemble a good team of engineers to create a great product. Part of what is required is good leadership and Joe Sutter (the author) helps the reader to understand what this means. I found the discussion of the history of boeing and boeing products from the perspective of an insider to be useful. If you have an interest in engineering in general than this is a useful book to read. I also would expect that this book would be of particular interest to aeronautical engineers. Finally I would recommnd the book to students of engineering if they want to gain an insigth into the sacrifices and rewards of an engineering career. Mr. Sutter's love of his work shines through but you also realize that there were some penalties on the home front. ( )
  jbheffernan | Jun 5, 2008 |
I spotted this book at the University Bookstore, and picked it up because I recently landed a job in the aerospace industry, and am woefully under-informed about my field. While the writing is uninspired, and Mr. Sutter’s attitude unbelievably positive, I learned a lot and can now tell the difference between a 747 and a 737, which I am happy about. If you are interested in the history of aerospace, this is not a bad book to read. ( )
  rmjp518 | Oct 29, 2007 |
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