: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental First Flight I was there!

03-22-11, 04:24 PM
As an aviation enthusiast, I've been following all the development and flight testing of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner and 747-8. I watched the first flight of the 787 and 747-8 Freighter on Boeing's live webcast, and also watched the unveiling of the 747-8 Intercontinental (the passenger version) last month.

This time, however, Boeing had everybody in for a surprise. Instead of the expected Boeing blue livery, the 747-8 Intercontinental sported a one-time-only Sunrise livery, a mix of red, orange, gray and pearl white:


Seeing the latest version of the Queen of the Skies in such a bright, bold color scheme gave me an idea. While the official story is Boeing chose the color to represent a new day for the venerable 747 — which first flew in 1969 — and that these colors represent prosperity and good fortune in Asia and the Middle East — the prime markets for the airplane — orange is also our school color at Oregon State University, where I work. We have a large College of Engineering and several hundred alumni working at Boeing. And our current marketing campaign is Powered by Orange. So I thought, why not do a story on an OSU engineering alum who's on the 747-8 team?

With some help from the OSU Foundation, I got an ideal subject: the director of paint, pre-flight at delivery at Boeing's widebody plant in Everett, WA. He was one of the few who knew about the Sunrise livery, since he was in charge of getting it done. I interviewed him when he came to Corvallis to do some recruiting for Boeing, and when it was over, he invited me to come to Seattle for the airplane's first flight! And not just to show up at the airfield and look through the fence, but he made arrangements through Boeing Communications where I was among the media guests given special access to the event. So I was on an elevated berm probably 50-100 yards from the runway when the 747-8 took off.

I took one of OSU's video cameras to get some footage to go along with the story, but I haven't had a chance to edit it, nor could I get stills of the take-off and landing. But here are videos others have posted on YouTube:



And a couple of stills from Boeing:


I think everybody was surprised at how quickly the airplane rotated. I know I was amazed to see in person how something so large could take to the air with such effortless grace.

The chase planes got some gorgeous photos of the 747-8 in flight:



The landing was 4.5 hours later at Boeing Field in Seattle. I was there for that, too:



Boeing also posted a compilation video and feature story (http://www.boeing.com/Features/2011/03/bca_747-8_majestic_first_flight_03_21_11.html).

For someone who loves airplanes, — big Boeings in particular — Sunday was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget. After the landing and press conference, I got a couple pictures of the airplane, and a nice lady from Boeing Communications took my picture with it:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/188637_10150123992463094_776743093_6335160_7311333 _n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/188394_10150123992493094_776743093_6335161_3428651 _n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/190605_10150123992513094_776743093_6335162_4429137 _n.jpg

Still need to write my story and edit the video (Boeing also provided video footage for the media that I may use as well). I'll post a link to that when it's all done.


03-22-11, 04:39 PM
Very neat :thumbsup:

03-22-11, 04:47 PM
Great story, Gary! Great tie in for your employer too!

When I was ten years old I was able to go to a ship's launching at the old New York Ship building yard in Camden, New Jersey. I had never been around anything as big as a full sized (for the early fifties) oil tanker on the weighs. Especially to my ten year olds eyes the ship was huge, and to see it slide down the weighs into the Delaware River was a thrill of a lifetime. The year was 1954 and in New York Ship's not too distant this yard had built many ships including Cruisers and Battleships for the Second World War. The fellow who got us admitted to the launching worked as a electrician at the yard whom we had me when he was moonlight doing the electrical work on a new house my parents were building. He knew of my fascination with ships and the sea so the tanker "Socony ......" was to be launched he invited my mother and me to see the event. After the launching he gave a book on the history of the New York Ship Building Company, and it along with the printed brochure celebrating that day's launching are still among my favorite possessions.

03-22-11, 05:07 PM
I forgot to mention that Joe Sutter, the chief engineer for the 747 back in the 1960s was there to see the latest version of his legacy take flight.



After the press conference, his photo was taken with members of today's 747 team. The landing gear doors are painted with his initials.


Sutter turned 90 yesterday; certainly a nice birthday present. Sutter still has an office at Boeing and keeps busy as a consultant and ambassador. He was an adviser on the 747-8 and has said that he always thought the original -100 version looked stubby; the lengthened -8 looks just right.

For anybody who loves airplanes, I highly recommend Sutter's book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=0060882425) on the development of the 747 (hueterm has my copy on loan):


03-22-11, 05:10 PM
Very neat :thumbsup:I really wish I could have taken along a videographer and photographer with the proper equipment. There were professional photographers with probably 18-inch lenses getting shots. And I could have focused on watching the airplane fly than trying to capture it on video with my ahem limited skills.

03-22-11, 05:18 PM
When I was ten years old I was able to go to a ship's launching at the old New York Ship building yard in Camden, New Jersey. I had never been around anything as big as a full sized (for the early fifties) oil tanker on the weighs.Only in person can you truly appreciate its size. Most of the airports I frequent are dominated by 737s, 757s and A320s. The largest plane I see at PDX are the Hawaiian 767s like the ones I flew last December. I'm taking an Air Canada 777 from Toronto to London in September, and I'm really looking forward to flying the 777 for the first time.

Saturday, I took a tour of the Boeing factory; you can't take cameras or any electronic devices, so no photos, but it was very impressive. Got to see the third 747-8 for Lufthansa nearing completion, plus two 747-8 Freighters even closer to roll out. We were also taken to another observation area where you could see the moving 777 line on one side and the 787 line on the other.

In addition to the 747-8, I got to see take-offs and landings of the 787 at Paine Field in Everett and Boeing Field in Seattle. I got pictures of those, some surprisingly decent, and I'll post those when I get a chance.

03-22-11, 05:39 PM
I really wish I could have taken along a videographer and photographer with the proper equipment. There were professional photographers with probably 18-inch lenses getting shots. And I could have focused on watching the airplane fly than trying to capture it on video with my — ahem — limited skills.

You should have gotten me a media pass and flown me in :shifty

03-22-11, 05:45 PM
Outstanding! I think I'll see if I can find a copy of that book at the Borders liquidation.

03-22-11, 06:00 PM
I do love 747 and this is quite exciting for me to see them back, well with a brand new design... It is time for A340 to pull over! :D

03-22-11, 06:02 PM
You should have gotten me a media pass and flown me in :shiftyHell, because of some office politics, I had to pay my own way, and because of an intake leak in the Seville (that's being fixed today; the soonest my mechanic could get me in), I had to drive Betty. The motel room was only $70, but gas was $150. I wasn't too happy about that, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from going. I'm hoping that if the story turns out well, I might get at least a mileage reimbursement, but I'm not holding my breath.

03-22-11, 06:48 PM
gd, that's super cool! :) What a field trip!

03-23-11, 02:32 AM
Very cool Gary! Glad you had a great time. I can see why these big birds are so fascinating to you.

03-23-11, 05:29 PM
That had to be an experience of a lifetime. I have incredible video of President Clinton coming into Cleveland 50' DIRECTLY over my head just before the landing threshold and I was nearly blown off my feel from the winds turbulence (just like the movie Pushing Tin). I also have equally impressive footage of it taking off and using every inch of Cleve Hopkins Airport's 23L (longest) runway while clearing off the lights on the grass along a runway that RARELY sees planes bigger than a mere 737 or MD80. A 747 of any series is a treat here in Cleveland and never happens anymore, I can only imagine the rollout and flight you witnessed. I used to hear the buzz of an L1011 heavy every night for Fedex overnight shipments that has since been replaced with a 737-300 that looks cool but offers hardly more than a standard thrust sound. Great story here.

03-24-11, 04:09 PM
Have some more pictures from Sunday:

The Intercontinental with three 747-8 freighters and an ANA 787 on the flightline at Paine Field in Everett:


A B-52G Stratofortress awaiting restoration for Seattle's Museum of Flight:


Even the coffee sleeves commemorate the first flight. I love Boeing's tagline for the 747-8: Incredible Again. Unlike the much-delayed 787, it only took three years from the formal launch of the 747 program with the initial order from Pan Am to first flight. And that includes building the mammoth factory in Everett — the world's largest building in terms of volume — from scratch. The team that produced the 747 in the 60s were known as The Incredibles. Which they were. This is a nice tribute to their legacy.


Engines running, waiting to taxi:


While waiting for the 747, we got a bonus: the first 787 Dreamliner. It did a touch-and-go, then a couple of missed approaches where it started to land, then abruptly started climbing. The airplane is very quiet, but the engines do make a cool sound as they spool up:


I love the wings on both the 787 and the 747-8. Although the design is based on greater efficiency, they are so graceful; easily the most elegant wings I've ever seen on an airplane:


Taxiing toward the runway. You really can't appreciate the size of the 747 unless you see it in person. And to be so close to this one was, to use Boeing's word, incredible:



After the take-off, I drove down to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, which is adjacent to Boeing Field. That's where the 747-8 would land and where Boeing conducts many of its flight tests. Got to see another 787 — #5 off the production line — taxi and take off:


Later both Dreamliners #1 and #5 landed back-to-back:



The 747-8 taxiing after landing:


The media gathers near the 747-8 after landing:


The device hanging off the vertical stabilizer is used during test flights to measure static pressure, which helps determine air speed.


03-24-11, 04:19 PM
One of the aviation bloggers I follow had an interesting entry (http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/) about the 787s we got to see, calling it a warm-up act, with I think is both funny and accurate:

Like any good main stage performance, you have to have a solid warm up act, something to get the crowd in the right mood. Tell a joke, sing a song, do a magic trick, or bring in a jetliner to do touch-and-gos and low passes while its jumbo sibling warms up it engines for its first flight.

As it turns out, ZA001's Sea World-esq dolphin show was far from intentional, the lead 787 test aircraft was conducting autolands for FAA certification credit. The timing happened to work out beautifully. The aircraft made one touch-and-go and two low passes at Paine Field before heading back out to the test area.

Some videos of the 787's warm-up show: