Jul 27, 2007

Boeing, Boeing, Boeing!

Recently Boeing lined up their famous family of airliners on one taxiway. The B707 landed at 7:07, followed by the B717 at 7:17, etc... Neat idea. This got me wondering... Which of these aircraft would I love most to fly for a day of fun and frolicking in the skies? All incidental expenses like fuel, airport fees and so on, included of course!

Personally, I'm vacillating between the good ole' twenty-seven and the Jumbo 747 - I've never flown with 4 engines... Mind you the classic 707 represents the glory days when Jet Planes were a new thing and airline flying was a thrill, not merely a lo-cost commodity. On the other hand, it would be fun to get my hands on that jumbo triple seven. But wait, maybe I'd wait and try the spanking new 787 ... so hard to choose.

How about you? I've added a Poll (check the sidebar) so you can choose your favorite. Also, please post a comment and tell us why. Let's see which airplane wins the TWSO "I want it, I want it, I want it" award!


Chris said...

757 - It looks so powerful, man that would be fun :D

Mike said...

The B744 - big, docile, good performance and a glass cockpit with 4 engines. Thinking about this it just came to me that Boeing has only built two 4 engine aircraft types - the 72 and the 74.

moe said...

I became interested in aviation as a little kid. I was a dumb kid who stared up like most of us, towards an enormous sky and yelled "airplane" at mom or dad. I didn't differentiate or discern; an airplane was an airplane and I wanted to be up there amongst them.

Unfortunately, the real world grabbed a hold of me by the shirt collar come high school and I forgot all about it. Airplanes were tools used in order to transport oneself from point A to B, much like the countless and nameless cars on the road.

Then, of course, Freud's human condition hit and I decided to take my first discovery flight in an old 70's Cessna. The aviation bug hit, and ever since airplanes have become the glorified iconic figures of interest they remain in my own life today. I scoured the internet for news on bigger and better airliners, on historic milestones and big breakthroughs....

The DC-3 will always be history, the 747 will always be the Jumbo, the Conchords always supersonic and idealistic, and, luckily for me, the future was just beginning. For a newcomer to the industry, one would think I'd have my choice of the 21st century crop. I felt like a kid in a fantasy candy store; a mere 100 or so hours in to my training and I thought (and possibly still think to this day) that any of the new flying toys are within my reach:

The A380! What a machine! I saw a special documentary on TV and the test pilots said that it flies just like any other Airbus. Ignore the size, it's an airliner like any other... but..but.... The 787! My God. What a machine. Boeing's hype got to me. It's brilliant marketing scheme told me that it's the biggest revolution in airliner history since the jet engines and I didn't doubt it. I imagined myself an airline captain of the 787 enjoying the more humid, lower cabin pressure, looking out of a flight deck that I felt completely confident and comfortable in. I pictured myself directing transatlantic travel utilizing flight plans and weather diagrams downloaded onto an unheard of and revolutionary FMS... And I thought... Get me hired to an airline who has orders in for this baby..., "Screw Southwest! I don't care about the pay! I'll take Continental and all its stigma!"

But as I've finished my Instrument rating, and started working on my commercial, I kind of lumped the Dreamliner dreams with those I had as a kid. Now I think of the financial security and quality of life that may come with flying one of those easier Southwest 737s'. I think that maybe I wont be up for 12 hour LAX-Heathrow stints, etc. Maybe reality puts a damper on what I've dreamt of doing once again.

Splendor said...

I voted 767 ... I know it's not the youngest of aircraft, but I think it's one of the most versatile flying machines Boeing produced, and wouldn't mind earning my living on it.

Imagine the flexibility of doing a few Rapidairs, then switching to trans-pacific, then trans-atlantic ... Probably fantasizing, but still.


P.S. It also looks very cool. The -300 anyway.

Klari said...

I've been reading your blog (and enjoying it a lot!) for a while. I'd really like to give my vote, unfortunately, I lack some criteria to make a choice. ANd I find them all beautiful.
Just a comment to say that making a poll like that is really a neat idea.

Dan said...

I will only ever dream of actually piloting an aircraft, but if I had the opportunity to just make one of those beasts lift off the runway and up into the air, it would have to be the 747 just because of the enormity... As a passenger, is there any opportunities out there to sit in on takeoffs/landings from the cockpit in this post 9/11 world we live in? I would love to be able to do that just once. Love your blog, keep up the great work!

Aluwings said...

Chris, Splendor - The closest I ever came to riding a rocket was the day I was commuting in the flight-deck from Toronto to Montreal on a brand new B767-300. When these twin-engine longer-range Boeings are flying a short hop with little fuel and few passengers, the excess thrust available is amazing. On this day the runway was damp enough to require a full-thrust take-off (that was the Captain's story and he's sticking to it! ;-). We were airborne in only a few seconds and the rate-of-climb instrument was pegged at 6,000 feet per minute. We were going through 3,000 feet crossing the far end of the airport! Whoo-eeee!

Mike - yeah! I had the same realization. Funny though, that a "transatlantic airliner" in my mind, still has 4 engines. Today, the numbers are probably rapidly favoring 2-engined aircraft?

Moe - there are certainly some 'iconic' airplanes through history for me too. And as I scanned the Boeing lineup I was thinking that the B737 - aka FLUF (Fat Little Ugly Fella - or another F-word :-), is the ubiquitous Boeing. It's the work-horse. The one that just 'gets it done' day-in, day-out without a lot of hoopla. I've seen them flying up North using gravel runways, and in every major airport terminal in the world. And now the advanced models are doing west-coast to Hawaii! It would be an interesting study to know which airliner has carried the most people and I'm betting the three-seven would win hands down.

And regarding dreams - any day in an airplane is a good day. During my career I never managed to do the 'real' overseas for one reason and another (recessions, seniority issues, promotion preferences, etc.), but after doing a few trips to the outer Carribean I began to realize that hours and hours over the water is actually kind of boring. There's nothing to see! And all the fun is in the take-off and landing anyway!

Klari - this is a fantasy poll anyway, so I encourage you to just pick your favorite for whatever reason.

Aluwings said...

Dan, As far as I know the main carriers now all forbid flight deck visits. Too bad because most pilots enjoy sharing what we do with our passengers (hence - blogging pilots). I do recall one airline that had a program whereby passengers could trade in their Frequent Flyer points for an hour or so in a flight simulator. I'm not sure if such a program still exists... Anyone know?

Soaring Student said...

I voted for the 747, if for no other reason than uniqueness, by both business and aviation standards.

For a uniqueness standard the 747 (perhaps along with the Concord) sets the standard. This beauty was designed in the 1960's and is still uniques almost 50 years later, and was so different than everything before it. Double-decker construction, extensive involvement of the lead customer Pan Am, designed from beginning to have an extended life due to freight service conversion, high-bypass engines, friendly with the existing hangers and runways of the day.

From a business perspective, Boing bet the farm on this aircraft. If it was a winner, Boeing would win. If it was a commercial flop, Boeing was going out of business.

The rest is history.

Besides, size matters.

Mike said...

Talking about the "boring" bit Aluwings - I did a cockpit trip in a B744 YMML-LAX. It is hours of very little, great conversations and views about and of the world. At one point the PFD started flashing "pilot input" and then a little while later a horn went. The guys said that meant nobody had touched anything for 20 minutes!! Kind of like the deadman handle in a locomotive. I sort of feel that you want 4 engines crossing the Pacific but it really isn't so any more.
Dan I think that the post 9/11 days are sad and the post Kai Tak days too. Wonderful experiences no longer readily available.

Klari said...

ok, I'll vote for the 707, then. wikipedia says there's only one still operated, by an Iranian airline. So, it's a rarity already, isn't? I like the idea that generations and generations of passengers and pilots have already flown them. After all, there will still be plenty of opportunities to fly the 747, 787.. They won't disappear soon.

Johnny Wadd said...

I'd fly the 747, it'd be like flying an apartment building. Great photo, thanx for posting it.

CP Air

Anonymous said...

For some obscure reasons the blogger word verification refuses to work with Firefox under Linux. Anyway, this allows me to vote twice in the competition.

If I were to pick a plane to fly, it would be an A380, being the biggest and not yet on the market. (I am pretty sure that after two economy class A380 legs the fun is over.) My choices are B787: New, will the wings stay on during take off, turbulence and landing? B747: Big, but easy to fly as a former (programmer) collegue told me.
(Latest addition... I added a vote for B707 for hystoric reasons.)

Aviatrix said...

No fair making me pick just one!

I want to fly the classic "jumbo jet" for those four engines and that unique recognizability.

I want to fly the Dreamliner because it's the latest and greatest and although it doesn't look quite as sexy as the artist's conceptions did before they finalized the design, it's still pretty slick looking.

I want to fly the B737 because it is the long-lived workhorse of the fleet. I'd choose an old -100 or -200 with the steam-driven panel and the ear-splitting cigar engines. Out of a snow-covered gravel strip in the middle of nowhere, just because it can.

And I want to try that rocket thing in the empty B767. I have to remember that "damp runway" line.

big said...

*sigh* i can but only dream. i'm torn between the 744 and the 738. the 738 for it shere "flyabilty" and the magesty of the 744 and the respect it commands, and maybe the thrill of tagging the "heavy" to the end of your flight number when talking to atc. been a "pilot" for a vitual aviation airline, i have been able to wangle a foot in the door of the cockpit... a bit of pre-planning and begging before you board normaly gets you in..