(Editor’s note: During the festivities surrounding the recent 787 test model handover at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, NYCAviation was granted an exclusive interview with Heather Ross who is one of the head 787 test flight pilots.)
NYCAviation (NYCA): Before the Dreamliner, what other aircraft did you fly?
Heather Ross (HR): I flew on the 737 program as the production chief pilot for Boeing, but overall I have flown on the 747, 757, 767 and 777. Before I joined Boeing I served in the Air Force in the T-37 and T-38 training aircraft before switching over to the C-5 Galaxy as my main mission plane before I transitioned to the C-141 Starlifter. After that I joined United Airlines flying the 747 and 727 as a flight engineer before getting upgraded to a first officer on the 737.
NYCA: So out of all those airplanes, which has been your favorite?
HR: Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. There is a real tendency under the wing of this airplane (ZA003) to say this airplane. It’s a great airplane; it really is. I love this plane but I love the 737 too, so it’s really a tough choice.
NYCA: How does the Dreamliner compare to other Boeing aircraft, and what’s it like to fly the dream?
HR: It’s named appropriately, for one; the aircraft really is a dream to fly. It’s very easy and makes all of us pilots look good. The flight controls do a wonderful job of basically rejecting turbulence and upset so the ride is very, very smooth. Since we’re standing under the Dreamliner, it’s obvious we’ve flown this airplane all over the world; in fact, a couple times around. I can tell you even on 16- and 17-hour flights I don’t feel as fatigued as I would on any other airplane. The cabin pressure is much lower, and the humidity is much higher so you don’t feel dried out. It’s just a real comfortable plane to fly not only as a crew member and pilot but also as a passenger.
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