Screen shot of Boeing's Explore 737 page highlighting the 360 view of a United Boeing 737-900ER (N36444).

Screen shot of Boeing's Explore 737 page highlighting the 360 view of a United Boeing 737-900ER (N36444). Click the image to be taken to the interactive view.

The Boeing 737 is the bestselling airliner in the world and for good reason. The first flew on April 9, 1967 and even though the aircraft has changed quite a bit over its 42 year history, it is still easily recognizable. Recently, a brand spanking new United 737-900ER had one heck of a 360 view created in its honor. I had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Ponton, 737 Brand Manager, via the phone to learn a bit more about the process it took to create such a unique image.

Ponton explained how it was actually quite difficult for Boeing to get their hands on a completed aircraft. Normally they are built and handed over to the airline quickly. If the plane is sitting on the ground, it isn’t making any money — for anyone. This 737 (N36444) ended up having a week free, so United allowed Boeing to take it down to Victorville, CA (KVCV) to do the photo-shoot. Well, the word “photo-shoot” really does not give this project justice. The crew spent almost an entire day (8:30am-3:30pm) taking photos (guessing the number of photos taken is the contest — see below) from about 150′ away to create the 360 view.

This is truly a one of a kind project that uses Microsoft’s Silverlight technology. The Boeing 737 360 view has even been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest giga-pixel image of a single object — impressive. Boeing created this not only for their airline customers, but also to share with airline fans. They wanted to use a high-technology method to highlight the technology used on the current 737 family.

The view really let’s you explore the 737 in great detail. You can zoom all the way in to see rivets or read the safety messages on the aircraft’s doors. When asked if Boeing might do this with other aircraft types, Ponton was not so sure. He explained how completing this 360 on Boeing’s smallest aircraft was already a challenge and a larger aircraft would only be more difficult. Of course, that is not to say that Boeing might not be up to the challenge.

CONTEST: How many photos did Boeing use to make this 360 view possible?
Boeing spent a long time taking all the photos needed to make this impressive view and I am holding a contest to see who can come closest to how many it took. I have been told the official number by Mr. Ponton and whomever gets closest will get a fun prize. I am not sure exactly what the prize will be, but if you keep your expectations low, you won’t be disappointed. You will have until 5pm PT on Tuesday August 2nd, 2011. You can either leave a comment or send an email to da***@ai*************.com with your answer. Good luck!

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Melissa S.


keep my expectations low eh? story of my life hehe… I say 20,430

I’m guessing around 20,250 pictures.


Lowball: 70

1,400,000 (One million four hundred thousand)

** Please make sure that you publish more details about this ‘shoot.’ How many cameras, phographers, time etc. It must have taken them a long while and some serious CPU horsepower to assemble it all. An impressive, interactive display to be sure!** Thanks. -C.


Since I’ve been working ORD,I see UA/CO aircraft everyday, and personally it dose not impress at all. I still like 70s UA and CO. Golden Glory age.

an even 20,000

Mike Obrecht

My guess is 20,100 pictures. Mike

about 20,000.

20,388. Do you win the plane if you get it right? Also, how grey is the grey water that comes out of those heated pipes?

Ray Wodehouse

Hi David,

The 737 first flew on April 9th, 1967 – not 1969 as stated in your post.

Ray Wodehouse
Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Hey Ray,

Thanks for pointing that out I mis-typed. I have updated it


Tsai-Shen Yang

I think 654,782 pictures were taken.

Brett Ogden

Zero it was a video

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