Air India’s last remaining Boeing 747 made its last flight a few days ago, mostly unremarked. But it was a moment of sadness, as when something truly great and beautiful passes into history. Please shed a nostalgic tear for it.

It was an amazing aircraft. It could, when suitably modified, carry as many as 520 passengers. Back in the 1980s.

The jumbo was originally intended as a cargo plane to carry tanks and such like. But in 1966 it was reassigned as a large fuel efficient carrier for Pan Am, which bought 25. India bought six and got its first jumbo in 1971.

Watching a jumbo take-off and land never failed to amaze. The sheer grace and brute power, both in view simultaneously, are hard to capture in words. In the 1970s the size of that giant machine lifting slowly in a deafening roar and climbing away, or just floating down to land with engines barely audible, has always induced awe, till the reverse thrust shook the window panes. Inside you barely heard them.

My first experience on the 747 was also the first time I flew, in 1975. Air India had given me a free ticket to attend a job interview with them. It was a New York-Delhi-Bombay flight and I got on at the last leg. (They didn’t select me, the silly fellows.)

After that, like hundreds of thousands of others, I flew on it many times, including, unlike the others, five times with two prime ministers. Believe me, that’s the way to fly.

Once, we encountered such wild turbulence that this giant plane was wobbling like a banana leaf in a storm. On another occasion the Korean driver of our bus at Seoul airport couldn’t find this huge aircraft despite its majestic size.

The Delhi and Bombay airports were not ready for the numbers it carried. The chaos brought you back down to earth in what pilots call a hard landing.