A photographer has captured the moment the final flight of a Boeing 747 was greeted on the runway by a family of deer.
The KLM jumbo jet, registration PH-BFR, making its last flight after 23 years of service, had just touched down at Enschede Airport Twente, Netherlands, when three roe deer crossed its path on the runway. The aircraft is the first of KLM’s fleet of 747s to be scrapped at the airport.
“Deers are a pretty rare sight at the airport, but they are known to be living there as the airfield and infrastructure are surrounded by forests,” said amateur photographer Sjoerd Drost, who said the quiet airport was more used to private jets and light aircraft from the local flying school.
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“[The photo] was a lucky catch as I have been photographing here since late 1991 when the airfield was still being used by the military.”
KLM has been phasing out its 747s to make way for a more modern fleet. Data from FlightRadar24.com shows that the aircraft in the photo flew its last commercial flight in October from Mexico City to Amsterdam. Over the last year it has also been to Hong Kong, New York and Toronto.
“Aside from all sorts of financial reasons which we will not burden you with, we feel it’s very much of a question of getting out when you’re on top,” said Jacky van Damme, of KLM, on the retirement of its 747s.
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“The spotlights have to be shared with new stars like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Boeing 777. These aircraft are more economical, quieter and offer passengers more comfort.”
Van Damme explained why the 747 was such an important aircraft: “The first 747 jumbo jet changed the airline industry more than 45 years ago. After all, it made it possible to travel a long distance with numerous passengers for the first time. The world became accessible to the masses.”
Last year Air France bid farewell to its last 747 with a flight alongside 11 Alphajets from the Patrouille de France.
British Airways, which has 41 of the jumbo jets, says they are being phased out and will be gone from its hangars by 2024.
Earlier this year, United waved goodbye to its last 747 with a farewell flight from San Francisco to Honolulu (recreating the route of its first 747 service in 1970), while United’s US rival Delta retired its last 747 in September.