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From the Hangars

Ship 6301 Moves to the Delta Flight Museum

May 02, 2016

After months of planning and preparation, Delta's Ship 6301, the first 747-400 to be built by Boeing, rolled a quarter mile from Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport runway across Toffie Terrace and Woolman Place roads to the parking lot in front of the Delta Flight Museum.

The move is part of a larger project to create a plaza and exhibition that highlights the unique story of Ship 6301 and of the place the Boeing 747 has in aviation history. This exhibition and plaza will be opened at the beginning of 2017, but this first step of moving the aircraft posed the greatest challenge to the project. Full flight history of Ship 6301

The effort required the coordination of the Delta Flight Museum, Delta TechOps DART (Disabled Aircraft Recovery Team), Delta's Super-Tug Operations, Delta's Corporate Real Estate, Delta's Corporate Security, Delta's Corporate Communications, ABM Facilities Services, Every Thing Contractors, the Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta' Department of Aviation.

Prep work for the move started a week before as tons of dirt from an earth berm were cleared to make room for the 212 foot wingspan of the 747-400. On Friday, April 28th, fences and light poles were pulled down and steel plates were laid across dirt and grass patches the 747 Move Team anticipated the aircraft would roll over. The path of the aircraft would also cross over roadway, and it was anybody's guess whether the thin layer of asphalt would support the 400,000 lbs being held up by massive landing gears.


Originally scheduled for May 1st, the 747 Move Team determined that moving on April 30th would avoid the forecast of thunderstorms predicted to arrive on Saturday afternoon. The weather on April 30th proved to be perfect conditions for the move. At approximately 7:47am, a Super-Tug attached itself to the nose gear of Ship 6301. Carefully the Team maneuvered the aircraft through the runway fence into the parking lot of DHL EXpress and the USDA. As Ship 6301 moved, DART team members with air-horns signaled if a wing or engine were getting too close to an obstruction. If possible, the obstruction was removed (fence post, etc.) or the aircraft was gently re-positioned.


The most tense moment of the move came as Ship 6301 entered the Delta parking lot. The road slopes down and even the experienced DART (Disabled Aircraft Recover Team) leader Chuck Starcher was anxious about the massive 747-400 rolling forward without stopping. For that reason, a team member was in the cockpit with the ability to apply brakes to the gears if needed.  

Once the aircraft passed the slope and made it completely into the parking lot, the team was ready to put Ship 6301 in her new temporary parking space. After inching forward for the last two hours, the 747 appeared to be sprinting across the lot, while the Move Team and those gathered to watch cheered her on to the finish line.

Super-Tug executed one more perfect turn in front of the Delta Flight Museum's hangars before maneuvering her into a parking spot adjacent to what will soon be a beautiful plaza built to highlight both Ship 6301's historic significance and her sublime beauty.

The 747 Move Team posed for one last photograph before heading off after a perfectly executed move.

Ship 6301 will not be accessible during this project build (the plaza will eventually feature a stair and elevator access to the main deck). However, starting now every visitor to the Delta Flight Museum will get a great view of the aircraft as she waits for her final berth. We are planning to open Ship 6301 to public tours in early 2017. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project! 

Tim Frilingos

Manager - Exhibits


Leave a comment
  1. William Thomas | Dec 02, 2016
    love it
  2. Gary B | Jul 02, 2016
    I've flown on Ship 6301 and several others on my yearly Delta flights from Detroit to Japan and to Manila, Philippines since 2010. I absolutley love flying with Delta on these big besutiful 747-400's. How else could you be comfortable on a 17 hour flight. And the interior upgrades Delta gave these planes was right on. Thank you for saving this one for future generations to see!
  3. Diana Worley | May 04, 2016

    Welcome Ship 6301.  We have fond memories of flying the 747s between Atlanta and Los Angeles back in the 70s.  Thanks to the team for a great job.

  4. Dan | May 03, 2016

    Any plans to return it to its original Northwest colors?

  5. John Stallsmith | May 02, 2016

    Thanks for the article on the 747 move.  Look forward to visiting your museum on one of our trips between Indiana and Florida.

  6. John | May 02, 2016

    Great job.  Can't wait to see it 

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