Saturday, Sept. 16, 1989 | 6 a.m.
In the first visit of its kind, the new Boeing 747-400 did a touch-and-go on McCarran Airport's Runway No. 25 for the benefit of the local media Friday, before landing again and taxiing over to Hughes Ramp for an overnight stay.
The hump-backed plane, sold to Australia's Qantas Airlines, stopped over at McCarran before departing for London to pick up passengers for the first time for the light through Singapore to Sydney.
The $125 million passenger plane, a jumping white kangaroo on its tail outlined in red, is the newest generation of the legendary 747 -- faster and quieter then previous models. It also can fly longer without refueling.
Capt. David Massey Greene set a world record Aug. 16-17 when he flew the plane non-stop without refueling from London to Sydney and landed with 45 minutes of gas to spare.
"It's a tight and sweet plane to fly," he said, standing between cushioned passenger seats as he explained the aircraft's capabilities. For instance, "the roll response is crisper."
It also takes fewer to fly this bird - two pilots versus four (including an engineer) for the last 747. The cockpit also is computerized and can technically take off, fly and land by itself, a Boeing official said.
The four-engine plane is something like its predecessors, except for the top passenger deck is larger, the wings are longer and there are five-foot vertical winglets on the wings' ends, Greene said.
"It smells like a new car with big fins on it," said an airport driver who got to peek inside.
Airport officials hope to see more of Qantas and other international air carriers. At least a couple of years away is a separate international terminal that will cost $35 million and will be located northwest of the current terminus, McCarran spokesman Samuel Ingalls said.