Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I always Carry a Camera

While driving past a local airport the other day, I saw this beauty taking off:

For those of you non-aviation geeks, this is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It is a very rare aircraft, I believe there are only four flying as of now. This is the very first one ever built, it is undergoing FAA airworthy certification testing at various locations around the country.

There is a lot riding on the wings of this aircraft. It is the future of commercial aviation manufacturing in this country, I believe Boeing's survival depends on it's success.

What makes it unique is it's largely composite construction, rather than aluminum skin and structure. It is supposed to be lighter and stronger, thus allowing more payload with less fuel use - very important for airlines.

When I spotted it taking off, I instantly knew what it was by it's very flexible wing and by the plan-form of the wing. I also noticed that the landing gear did not retract, meaning that it was staying very close to the airport. It flew straight out from the end of the runway for about five miles, turned around and returned to land on the runway it had just taken off from.

Really, I don't drive around with my camera on my lap. Well, o.k, not my "big" camera anyway. I had about four minutes to find a place to turn around, find a place to legally park, get my "big" camera out, climb onto the bed of my truck and prepare the camera. I made it with seven seconds to share.

 The above photo was the result, as was this:

The second photo is unique because of the obsolete aircraft in the background. It shows the future and the past of commercial aviation in one shot.

Most of the aircraft in the background will likely be beer cans within a few years. They are being stored here in hopes that they will be needed by an airline or freight hauler before they deteriorate. The arid climate is ideal for storing aircraft, but the economics of the industry make scrapping them and reusing the aluminum a more likely outcome. Those old airliners, especially the jumbos, are just too thirsty.

I was really lucky to get these shots, It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time - with my camera.

Many of us will get to fly on a 787 someday, sales are brisk. The airlines do like a fuel efficient aircraft. When you do, remember that you saw it here first.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Ooh, airplane porn!

    Captain, was the plane trailing something from its vertical stab, or is that a bug splat?

  2. That's really awesome stuff, Capt. Schmoe. I am glad you were able to catch it. Interesting info on the plane too!

    The Observer

  3. Wayne - When I zoomed in on that object trailing from the VS, it appears to be some type of drogue device secured to the top of the tail. I have seen it in other photos of that aircraft and I have to assume it is some type of test instrumentation.

    Thanks Observer, I'm glad you liked them.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. Whoa that's really cool!! I'm not into airplanes, so this is the first I've heard of this craft. Amazing musing on the 2nd pic also. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you had your camera.


  5. Yes it's a Static cone device. Used for Flight test.

  6. Thanks Anon for the info. I just read somewhere that one of the 787s in test lost a static cone up in Washington somewhere. Maybe they needed a bigger cable?