Tricked-out 747 - United Hub
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Tricked-out 747s

By The Hub team, November 09, 2017

Since its debut in 1969, the Boeing 747 has been called upon for its fair share of special missions, from carrying U.S. presidents to fighting forests fires. Here, a look at five of the coolest modifications in the jumbo jet's history.

Air Force One

Perhaps the most famous airplanes in the world, the "Flying Oval Office" is actually a pair of specifically modified, sel-sufficient Boeing 747-200Bs (or VC-25s in Air Force terminology) that use the call sign "Air Force One" when the sitting U.S. president is on board. The planes have 4,000 square feet of interior floor space and such special features as air-to-air refueling, a medical operating room, and other classified perks. The current planes were delivered in 1990, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, and are expected to be replaced soon with updated 747-8i models.

Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Boeing created the hulking 747 Dreamlifter cargo plane for a very specific purpose: to haul 787 parts that were too massive for other forms of transportation to its production facilities in Washington state. The modified 747-400 features a bulging midsection that has earned it comparisons to the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, and, at 65,000 cubic feet, its enormous cargo is the world's largest by volume.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

A modified United 747SP was transformed into SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (or DLR) designed to carry the world's only flying infrared astronomy laboratory on missions that can take place only at altitudes of about 41,000 feet. The airplane's body features an enormous door that can be opened mid-flight to allow its infrared telescope access to the sky.

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA)

U.S. presidents aren't the only high-profile cargo carried by the 747. NASA employed a pair of modified 747-100s to transport space shuttles from their landing sites back to Kennedy Space Center, as well as on numerous test flights. The aircraft's range was reduced to a mere 1,000 nautical miles due to the dramatically increased payload of the space shuttle, which is mounted atop the the plane, piggyback-style.

Evergreen 747 Supertanker

The world's largest firefighting plane debuted in 2009 in the shell of a 747-100 and is capable of dropping nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water on large fires. An updated version, flying under the name Global Supertanker and built on a 747-400 frame, was used for the first time in the U.S. this summer to fight a Northern California wildfire.

Making our app more accessible for people with disabilities

By The Hub team, October 28, 2020

We're proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased color contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

United Zoom backgrounds for AvGeeks

By The Hub team, October 27, 2020

Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.

So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.

Looking back at a landmark year with Special Olympics

By Ryan Wilks, October 19, 2020

Earlier this summer, we shone a light on our flagship partnership with Special Olympics and our commitment to the Inclusion Revolution. In that same story, we introduced you to our four Special Olympics Service Ambassadors, Daniel, Kyle, Lauren and Zinyra (Z), who, this month, celebrate one year working at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as part of the United family.

This groundbreaking, inclusive employment program took off as a part of our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics, a community relationship that employees across the company hold close to heart. The original 'UA4' (as they call themselves) have become an integral part of the United team serving customers at O'Hare Airport. Even from behind their masks, their wide smiles and effervescent spirit exude and bring life to the service culture of excellence we strive towards every day.

"The UA4 are more than just customer service ambassadors. They are shining examples of how inclusion, accessibility and equity can have monumental impacts on the culture and service of a business and community," said Customer Service Managing Director Jonna McGrath. "They have forever changed who we are as a company. While they often talk about how United and this opportunity has changed their lives, they have changed ours in more ways than we can count."

In the two years of partnership with Special Olympics, United employees have volunteered over 10,500 hours of service at events around the world and donated over $1.2 million worth of travel to the organization.

"This inclusive employment program is what community partnerships, like ours with Special Olympics, are all about: collaborating to identify areas where the needs of the community intersect with the cultural and business opportunity, then creating the infrastructure and programming to bring the two together," said Global Community Engagement Managing Director Suzi Cabo. "Through this program, our goal is to show other companies that when you put a committed effort and focus towards inclusion and breaking down barriers, you transform lives. I challenge other business around the world to follow our lead in joining the Inclusion Revolution."

Check out the video below to hear from our Special Olympics Service Ambassadors firsthand.

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