Thursday, January 7, 2010



Go!- ZA001 takes to the skies

I'm way late in mentioning it, for several reasons. First, December is a somber month for air travel because of some significant crash anniversaries, and second I simply wasn't certain just how much of an air geek I'm willing to confess to, but the news is out.

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ZA001 (N787BA) completed her gauntlet and runway tests in mod December and was ready for flight test. On the morning of December 15, the plastic fantastic pushed back from the gate and headed for the runway. Boeing 1 was given takeoff clearance slightly behind plan, at 10:27 AM. Test pilot Mike Carriker and co-pilot Randy Neville taxied past thousands of onlookers. Capt. Neville pushed the thrust levers forward and raced down the runway. ZA001 lifted off gracefully and flew into aviation history. Two years late, and amid much skepticism, the Dreamliner flies like the Boeing she was made to be. The carbon fiber jet is here, and air travel will never be the same.

Geek that I was, I was watching the live feed from Boeing and reading comments on Twitter at the same time. I admit to tearing up when the bird flew over the live camera. "See ya later", it seemed to say. "I gotta fly." Here's first flight footage from KOMO in Seattle:

And after three hours, in deteriorating weather conditions, Captain Carriker brings ZA001 for a picture perfect landing in heavy rain: (official Boeing feed includes tower communication)

Just over a week later on December 22,the second Dreamliner, ZA002, wearing the ANA launch colors in tribute, also took to the skies. Except for a nose gear door alignment, the flight was flawless as well. Now that the new year is here, the two are flying pretty much daily and will be joined by the third flight test plane shortly. Dreamliner is here.

ZA002 above the Olympic Mountains

As much angst as they cause us, you have to love Boeing for betting the bank on their product. They did it with the 707, and launched the modern jet age. They did it with the 747, and changed the face of travel. And now the Dreamliner arcs her graceful wings and takes to the sky. Welcome, Dreamliner. We've been waiting for you.

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