I read the surprising numbers of posters telling this is "sad" - yet no one explains why it is especially sad.
Don't any of you blokes believe in progress?
You're making somewhat of a false dichotomy there. It is possible to believe in progress, while still feeling a sense of sadness about the end of an era. For instance I think the progress civil aviation has made in the past 60 years is truly amazing, and there is even greater to come. That doesn't mean I can't feel sad that I can no longer see a Caravelle or a Solent or a Tristar flying, or that an aircraft which has been associated with so many good memories for me (the 747) is coming to the end of its life. It also doesn't mean that I think we should go back to having Caravelles, Solents, Tristars and 747s as the mainstays of fleets. They all had their time, and they all served ably.
For me as someone growing up in New Zealand in the 1980s and 90s, the 747 was more or less the symbol of international flying. In fact I believe my first flight as a 3 year old was on a Qantas 747-200 AKL-SYD-AKL (followed by a flights AKL-NOU-AKL on an Air Caledonie International Sud Caravelle, and a on a UTA DC-10-30, all of which I sadly only have the vaguest of memories of, but they were sufficient to have me hooked on aviation). So the 747 holds a special place in my heart. I'm not an especially frequent long haul flyer, but over the years I have flown on: QF 747-200/-300/-400, NZ 747-200/-400, SQ 747-400, MH 747-400, TG 747-300/-400, and LH 747-8. The 747 took me on my first trip to Europe, and part way (along with a 777 and 787 respectively) on my second and third. The 747 took me to places in the Pacific sometimes, and even just between Auckland and Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane or between Sydney and Brisbane on occasion. From a pessenger perspective the aircraft is interesting, with its size, and its unique areas like the Zone A in the nose and the upper deck. In terms of aesthetics, I personally find the highly swept wing to be a thing of beauty. I think the original and stretched upper decks both have their distinct looks, and I enjoy them both. Viewed from front on with the curving windows and pointed nose, it just looks awesome to me. But obviously all that is subjective, and everyone is going to have their own opinions on it. It seems somewhat bizarre to me that some people feel the need to denigrate and deride other people's opinions on subjective matters.
As I've already hinted above, for me the sadness of seeing the demise of the 747 is less about the aesthetics, enjoyable for me as they are, and more about the memories associated with the aircraft. To carry the thought further, I am also sad to see the demise of the 767. Like the 747, the 767 was somewhat of a workhorse in my part of the world, and so I associate it with many memories of the Pacific Islands, Australia, and Japan. Unlike the 747, I can't say I found the 767 particularly interesting to look at; compared to a 777 or an A330 (and now to a 787 or an A350), it just seemed fairly bland aesthetically to me. But the aircraft served well, and now they're gone. So yes I am sad to see the 767 go. That doesn't mean I want them to keep going on; they have had their time, and now there are new aircraft to enjoy too - I already have good memories from A330s, 777s and 787s, and no doubt will have more from them and from A350s in the future. In time those types too will come to the end of their lives, and likewise I will be sad to see them go, and will be excited to see what comes next.