An airport worker opens a cargo door on Hainan Airlines' Kung Fu Panda 787-9 as it arrives on its first visit to the U.S.

An airport worker opens a cargo door on Hainan Airlines’ Kung Fu Panda 787-9

A group of 97 students from Lincoln High School, in Tacoma, Wash., recently traveled to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is pretty awesome.

What’s even more awesome for AvGeeks was the aircraft that Hainan Airlines selected for the students’ return flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA): a shiny new 787-9 decked out in a new Kung Fu Panda livery.

B-1540 is a brand-new 787-9 from Boeing's Charleston plant — it's first flight was August 22, 2016, and it was delivered to the airline Sept. 23.

B-1540 is a brand-new 787-9 from Boeing’s Charleston plant — its first flight was August 22, 2016, and it was delivered to the airline Sept. 23

For the uninitiated, Kung Fu Panda is an animated movie franchise created by DreamWorks featuring — you guessed it — a panda. Hainan is planning to paint six of its 787s in liveries featuring characters from the franchise.

The airline held a welcome-home ceremony for the students, who all signed a commemorative poster

The airline held a welcome-home ceremony for the students, who all signed a commemorative poster

The aircraft’s visit is the first to the U.S. for any of its KFP-themed planes, and, as such, was treated to a traditional water-cannon salute at Sea-Tac Airport.

A water-cannon salute never goes out of style

A water-cannon salute never goes out of style

Seattle was Hainan’s first U.S. destination when it expanded service to North America in 2008, and they’re actively expanding into other U.S. cities. Their newest route, Beijing-Las Vegas, is scheduled to begin December 2.

Hainan's 787-9 departs from Sea-Tac on the return flight to Beijing

Hainan’s 787-9 departs from Sea-Tac on the return flight to Beijing

In case you were wondering about that headline, “prepare for awesomeness” is the movie’s tagline. But we think that custom liveries are pretty awesome, too, especially when they’re on 787s.

A contingent of reporters from Chinese media outlets traveled to Seattle for the event

A contingent of media from Chinese outlets traveled to Seattle for the event

Representatives from Hainan Airlines and Boeing Commercial Airplanes were on hand to greet students as they returned from what sounded like an epic adventure.

The students’ itinerary included stops in Hong Kong, Sichuan Province (famous as the home of pandas), Fuzhou, and Beijing. They visited iconic sites including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and engaged with their peers at schools throughout the country.

“At a time when the political discourse around the U.S.-China relationship is not always positive, Hainan Airlines is proud to support exchanges like this one that enhance engagement between our two countries and build deeper understanding and lasting friendships across the Pacific,” said Hainan Airlines Vice President Hou Wei.

Scenes like this inspire young people to want to be firefighters (or pilots)

Scenes like this are no doubt what inspires young people to want to be firefighters

ASSOCIATE EDITOR - SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aerial, aviation, and commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.

http://www.zeraphoto.com
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