Thursday, December 17, 2009

News from the ground...

No, I'm not in the air again just yet. However, it's been an interesting week in aviation to say the least, and I thought it was a good time for a between-travel post.

First off though, yes I did make it safely home after my last weekend of flying. This was no thanks, however, to the fine specimen of a human who saw fit to run into me on the 405 from behind... and then speed off. This was not the way I saw my weekend concluding, but it could have been much worse. Luckily, it was nearly midnight and as such when my car was shoved into the next lane there was no one else to hit, and a little paint work should take care of the damage. The most ironic part was upon leaving LAX I thought to myself, "Ok, be careful, how stupid would it be to come home safely from 10,000 miles in the air only to crash your car on the way home?"

This whole ordeal just reinforces for me the statistics about the relative safety of flying vs driving. When people tell me they're scared to fly, I always answer that they're far more likely to be in an accident driving to work than flying cross-country. So...there's the proof for you, though I could have done without actually demonstrating it so literally.

So that said...onto the exciting news-

Congratulations are in order to Boeing for their first flighttests of the 787 "Dreamliner." Yes, they are congratulations that the company was hoping to get several years ago, but better late than never. A few months ago I was in a conversation with a few people about it, and when someone asked what the "Dreamliner was," they were answered with, "Its a dream Boeing had once that they'd build a new model of jet."

Though I laughed, being from the Seattle area originally and I'm always rooting for Boeing to do well, knowing how much of an effect they still have on the economy of the area. So I'm glad to see this Dreamliner finally becoming a reality. Besides, I can't help but say it's a beautiful design, and.... it appears that the thing actually flies. I'm also glad the testing is taking place out of Paine Field. There's something fitting about seeing Boeing's latest taxiing down the runway on a typical Northwest rainy day, and taking to the sky over Puget Sound. Despite the airplane noise, and frequent worker strikes, no one really wants to see Boeing move manufacturing out of the Northwest. In fact in the 1970s the company fell on hard times, and the sentiment was best summed-up by a billboard erected that said, "Will the last person out of Seattle please turn off the lights?"

Though Boeing's corporate headquarters are now in Chicago, its production facilities in Everett still employ the majority of their workforce, and are the largest buildings in terms of volume in the world. It's really an impressive sight from the 526 freeway, and if you're driving by late at night you might get to see them sneaking a finished jet across the overpass to the airstrip. They try to do this at night because it's quite a distraction to drivers as a 747 is towed 20 ft over their heads.

While I know I won't get the chance for awhile yet to fly in the Dreamliner, it's good to see the aviation industry moving forward. The 787 is billed as being more efficient, quieter, and comfortable than it's predecessors. In short, it looks to have been worth the wait.

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