From the “Boeing 747 Design and Development Since 1969”
The 747 service life began rather painfully in the early hours of January 22, 1970, when Pan Am Flight 2 finally left New York, bound for London. The flight had been due to leave several hours earlier, on January 21, with 336 passenger, but problems had cropped up with faulty door closing mechanism, the cargo loading, and almost inevitably, one of its engines. Clipper Young America, the first 747 actually delivered to Pan Am, taxied ou for take-off but returned to the terminal with an overheating number four engines.
Clipper Victor, which had been delivered less than 48 hours before, was substituted, and passengers who had not found other transport by than reboarded at about 1.30am local time, more than 6 hours late. Some were determined to be on the flight, having reserved seats two years earlier at a price of $375 for first class one way ticket.
The historic flight finally got away at 1.50am, as recalled by Steve Eastman, Boeing general supervisor who had flown on the first commercial 707 flight 12 years earlier. Writing in Boeing News he said,
“…a festive mood prevailed among the passengers as we had all ample opportunity by this time to become well acquainted on the ground and our recent adventures gave us much in common.
By 2.10am, we were at 18,000ft and passing over Nantucket while the most efficient stewards and stewardesses (18 in all) busied themselves to see to passenger comfort. They set up a beautiful and tasty buffet and a well stocked bar which we attacked with relish at 2.30am. During the next 3 hours most of us walked ‘halfway across the Atlantic’, strolling through the luxurious first class space, the elegant upper deck, and peeking into the busy flight deck area where the business of flying the airplane was being conducted.
In an incredible short 6 hours and 16 minutes after takeoff we landed to the cheers of passenger. We were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of Britons who turned out to be the most courteous and helpful people we have encountered to date”