Motorists using the M6 in Cheshire are set for a once-in-a-lifetime treat next week when the upper deck of a Boeing 747 is about to make its final journey on the motorway.
Rather than part of a somber burial, it’s a signal of new life for what was one of Britain’s last 747s used for commercial flight.
It is part of British Airways’ G-BYGA aircraft and will travel from Kemble on the outskirts of the Cotswolds to Manchester, where it is set to become ‘The Deck’ – a unique visitor centre, flight simulator and attraction sightseeing.
Local airline memorabilia company Doors2Manual is installing ‘The Deck’ at Salford City Airport. Not only saving the flight deck and upper deck cabin from scrapping, but also providing a lasting and permanent tribute to one of the most beloved passenger aircraft in aviation history.
The bridge will provide the perfect setting for educational and leisure tours, with the ability to get close to the pilot’s seat – even taking the controls to fly it as it becomes the UK’s only 747 flight simulator using a real airplane cockpit.
Doors2Manual also plans to create the Insta-dream wedding and conference venue for self-proclaimed AvGeeks looking for the perfect day or alternative staff day location.
Drew Hanna, co-founder of Doors2Manual and director of The Deck, said, “It has been a dream of ours for a long, long time and we are excited to finally prepare for G-BYGA’s final journey to our hangar.
“I don’t think many of us have ever seen a Boeing 747 taxiing down the highway, so it will be a sight many families and flying enthusiasts will never forget.
“We were able to make Doors2Manual one of the world’s leading suppliers of souvenirs and spare parts for airlines.
“Now to be able to recover such an important part of an iconic aircraft is our greatest pleasure so far.”
Currently, the City Airport hangar is being updated with the all-important date of August 11 as G-BYGA itself will be transported on its 150-mile journey, providing flight fans and the media with a unique opportunity to explore what happens when an iconic aircraft retires.
This is all a ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the aviation industry. Boeing 747s have been the most high-profile casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK travel industry, with the last 38 sent into early retirement. British Airways has scrapped its 31,747, or 10% of its entire fleet, while Virgin Atlantic has put its last seven iconic planes on pasture.
A previously released 747 became a movie star as a Star Wars prop and others were reconfigured for cargo. Still others will end up in airplane “graveyards”, gather dust in a distant wasteland, far from their former glories, or even, as all flight fans know, will be condemned to the ultimate indignity: to be recycled into Coke cans!
Karen Kearns, Operations Manager, Doors2Manual and Director of The Deck, added: “The trip to Manchester’s original airport is just the start of a second life for the spinster and we are so privileged to to be able to offer him a bright future.
“More than that, we know The Deck will provide the perfect backdrop to so many special days for flight fans and we can’t wait to see people coming back through the doors for tours, events and to get behind the yoke and make it fly.”
Tracy Williams, City Airport Business Development Manager, said: “We are delighted and delighted to welcome Drew, Karen and the team to The Deck and look forward to the arrival of the Boeing 747 G-BYGA to our airport.
“It will be a magnificent sight to behold and a fantastic addition to the airport’s offering, rescuing one of the most well-known and beloved iconic aircraft and giving visitors a unique opportunity to step into a real cockpit of 747.”
The 747 will travel up the M6 to its new home on Thursday August 11.
You can get more information on The Deck’s progress and live updates on today’s travel schedules on Instagram @thedeck747.