Delta Airlines’ 747 takes last flight: Final destination is airplane boneyard

ABOARD DELTA FLIGHT 9771 FROM ATLANTA — A few minutes after takeoff from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Wednesday morning, Delta flight attendant Stephanie Nelson veered from the traditional in-flight script.

Nelson, who has worked for Delta for 40 years, announced that she had a stash of black Sharpies to share with everyone on board the 376-seat jumbo jet.

“Feel free to sign the airplane,’’ she said.

A few minutes later, from the upper deck cockpit, Delta 747 Captain Steve Hanlon briefed passengers on the 3 hour, 6 minute flight to Pinal Air Park in Marana, north of Tucson.

He said the weather looked good in Arizona.

“Good luck back there and congrats to the bride and groom,’’ Hanlon said. “Good luck and God bless you.’’

A final farewell, a new beginning

An hour into the flight, Delta flight attendant Holly Rick and longtime 747 pilot Gene Peterson were married in Row 23, the bulkhead, 40,000 feet above Memphis.

Few things about Flight 9771 were ordinary.

Delta sent its final 747 to retirement in Arizona with one last party in the sky. The airline did a farewell tour with the 19-year-old plane late last year, with aviation geeks and employees filling the seats. It spent the past week ferrying the Buffalo Bills and Clemson Tigers football teams on sports charters.

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