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Before Delta 747 retirement, a flight to victory

As Delta Air Lines retires the Boeing 747 from its fleet, one of the jumbo jet's final missions was flying the Georgia Bulldogs to the Rose Bowl -- and team members had the chance to leave their mark.

After Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48 on New Year's Day in Pasadena, Calif., Delta also flew the team back to Atlanta in a 747 as one of the final flights on the airplane.

The jet arrived in Atlanta early Tuesday morning, then turned around and flew to New Orleans to pick up Clemson's team from the Sugar Bowl.

The charter passengers and employees on the 747's final flights have been signing the plane inside and out, and among the marks on Delta's last 747 are UGA and Clemson signatures.

Delta is the last U.S. airline to fly the 747, with the final jumbo jet in the fleet cruising off to the desert for retirement Wednesday.

But in the days since Delta's last 747 commercial flight in December, the plane has been used for charter flights -- including whisking sports teams off to big games.

Delta, the largest sports charter carrier, has also flown Michigan State to the Holiday Bowl and the Buffalo Bills in the 747's final days.

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  Georgia Bulldogs signed the 747 that flew them to and from the Sugar Bowl, as the jet flies toward retirement.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.