I remember as a child that on the weekends we would visit the airport to watch planes take-off and land. This was always a fascinating experience that was filled with awe and wonder. How could something so big take to the skies? Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 is the kind of book that I would loved to have read as a child and is a must read for kids fascinated by aeroplanes.
The Boeing 747 was a plane that would revolutionise the aviation industry. It could hold more passengers than any other plane when it was introduced to the world and it made travel more affordable. The Boeing 747 was lovingly named the ‘jumbo jet’ and jumbo it certainly was.
In Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747 Chris Gall retells the story of the building of the world’s first wide body passenger jet. A brief overview of aircraft is a welcome introduction and pays homage to some of the first inventors of flying machines including Otto Lilienthal and Orville and Wilbur Wright. Gall then explains the important flight concepts of gravity, lift, thrust and drag. Simple, labelled diagrams and illustrations help readers understand these.
The rest of the book is then devoted to the 747 as Gall takes readers on the journey from its conception to its first flight. Readers learn about the design process, the challenges, testing, construction and its unveiling to the world on September 30th 1968 - unfortunately, whilst it may have looked the part it was’t going to be carrying passengers anytime soon as it couldn’t actually fly (the engines on display were fake as the real ones were still being manufactured). It wasn’t long though until the engines were fitted and the jumbo jet was ready to to take flight, but would it?
There is so much information packed into this read and even as an adult reader I was fascinated by much of what I read. From reading that the plane would be so big that a new factory had to be built in which to build it to learning that a staggering 4.5 million pieces are put together to build a 747 - and I thought building a LEGO set with 6,000 pieces was impressive! Everything was huge on the 747: it needed more wheels than any other plane, its tail was as tall as a six-storey building and it was a whopping two-hundred-and-thirty-one feet long.
A sub-plot sees a young girl feature throughout and at the end Gall introduces Lynn Rippelmeyer - the first woman to captain the Boeing 747. The young girl we see witnesses the unveiling of the 747, flies paper aeroplanes, helps explain scientific concepts, builds her own model aircraft and is a passenger on the first commercial flight on January 22nd 1970. This young girl bears a striking resemblance to the older lady who we see in the 747 cockpit.
I love the artwork; large and bold illustrations truly capture the enormousness of the aircraft and young children will be captivated. Some very cool fun facts and a helpful glossary round things off. In a lovely author’s note, Chris Gall tells his own story of building an aircraft and getting it airborne. Delightful end papers are filled with an array of aircraft which are drawn to scale, giving readers a sense of how big the 747 was. For comparative purposes, a school bus is included and the 747 looks absolutely ginormous.
Recommended for 6+.