CAN it really be 40 years since the first Boeing 747 lumbered into Heathrow, appearing out of a grey, drizzly sky above Hatton Cross and thundering to a halt in a spectacular cascade of spray?
Well, it's almost 41 to be precise but, in the nick of time, before 2010 disappears over the horizon, here's proof that Fly Past hadn't forgotten this Jumbo anniversary year.
Our picture is a wonderfully atmospheric view of Pan Am 747-121, N 738PA, 'Clipper Defender' at Terminal 3, being prepared for its next transatlantic adventure sometime around 1973.
By those days the airport community had become used to the sight of these impressive giants. They were in service with many airlines flying in and out of London and the initial blend of excitement and wonder at watching one haul itself into the air on take-off had begun to diminish.
Seeing a Jumbo at night, however, was still a thrill. Standing at the arrivals gate and watching what in the darkness appeared to be a mighty ocean liner gracefully coming into dock - every cabin window glowing, a fleet of service vehicles waiting to spring into action - was, and probably still is come to that, a stirring occasion.
I have to admit the first time I saw a 747 arrive at one of the Terminal 3 stands - not long after they had come into service - I was convinced the nose was going to smash straight into the pier.
I stood watching through one of those huge windows as the plane got closer and closer, and remember breathing a sigh of relief when it juddered to a halt what seemed like inches from the glass!
Pan Am ordered 25 Jumbos as early as 1966, three years before the first flight. Each cost $21million and could carry up to 370 passengers - a figure which appeared ridiculously large in those days.
The 747 was the people's plane. No jet before or since has transformed the aviation industry so greatly, bringing long distance air travel to the masses and not just fur-coated, bejewelled celebrities and continent-roaming bankers.
Clipper Defender, the Jumbo in this photo, was still in service in 1983 but met with an unfortunate accident on August 4 that year. Landing on a rain-drenched runway at Karachi, the crew applied reverse thrust but a problem with number four engine caused the plane to veer to the left, leave the runway and crash. None of the 227 people on board was killed but the 747 was damaged beyond repair.
There was a more horrendous end for the 747 that had the next-insequence registration to Clipper Defender.
This was N739PA, Clipper Maid of the Seas, blown apart over Lockerbie on December 21, 1988.