Browsing Tag: Boeing 737-800

That is one styl'n Boeing 737-800 with a mustache.

That is one styl'n Boeing 737-800 with a mustache.Photo by Qantas.

For some reason, it seems that November is connected closely with men growing facial hair. A few years back the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia started promoting Movember with men growing mustaches to support prostate cancer research. Think of it as a pink ribbon to support breast cancer, but involving hair.

Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce is a survivor of prostate cancer and obviously the company has a special motivation for this. “As a survivor of prostate cancer, I am passionate about bringing greater awareness to men who are most at risk,” Joyce stated in a press release.

A 737 is not the only Qantas property to get the hairy treatment. A giant moustache has also been installed on the exterior of Sydney Qantas Domestic Airport, Terminal 3.

This terminal grows better facial hair than I do. Photo by Qantas.

This terminal grows better facial hair than I do. Photo by Qantas.

 

RwandAir gets their own Pike RwandAle from The Pike Brewing Company.

RwandAir gets their own Pike RwandAle from The Pike Brewing Company.

Earlier in the year, RwandAir took delivery of their first brand new aircraft, a Boeing 737-800. It was great being able to tag along with them back to Kigali, Rwanda to help celebrate the continent’s first Boeing Sky Interior. Last week, RwandAir executives made another trip to Seattle, WA to take delivery of their second new aircraft, another Boeing 737-800.

During their first visit, they were very impressed with our local beer selection. Boeing made some special arrangements and during RwandAir’s most recent trip, they were invited to dinner at the Pike Brewing Company. The airline received quite a surprise when the brewery came out with a special-label beer, which not only included the name “RwandAle,” but also an image of a 787 in their livery (which looks amazing by the way).

As previously reported, the 787 Dreamliner is in the airline’s future plans and although it might be a while before they have one in person, they can at least enjoy some beer with a 787 on the front.

“What a special day for our airline — we now have an airplane and an ale in RwandAir livery!” John Mirenge, RwandAir CEO stated. “We came to Seattle to pick up our second airplane, but we are leaving with a newfound friendship and a great partnership we can bring to the people of Rwanda,” he said. “Now all of Rwanda can see the great partnerships we have created in Seattle — such a great place with great people.”

Members of RwandAir, Boeing and Pike Brewing Company celebrate with a toast. Photo from Boeing.

Members of RwandAir, Boeing and Pike Brewing Company celebrate with a toast. Photo from Boeing.

The beer label reads: “RwandAir’s delivery of their first purchased new airplanes, the Boeing 737-800, was just the beginning. The airline now looks to the future and continuing to turn dreams into reality. RwandAir and the 787 Dreamliner — the perfect combination.”

Now, a new life goal has been hatched… drinking a RwandAle on RwandAir’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This just goes to show that an airline, like RwandAir, and a company, like Boeing, are more than just planes and numbers — they are really about the people… cheers!

Boeing builds their 737s in Renton, WA, but their aircraft are used all around the world. How does an airline get a brand new plane, built to go short distances, half way across the world? Well, they fly it there of course.

As previously reported, I was lucky enough to be invited on a delivery flight of RwandAir’s first brand new plane, a Boeing 737-800, to Kigali, Rwanda. I have already covered it in three different stories (one, two, three), but it can’t beat a video… Luckily I made one of those too.

This video follows our adventure from Boeing Field (KBFI), heading to Iceland (KEF) for fuel, then to Istanbul Turkey (SAW) to spend the night. Then finally to an amazing welcome at Kigali, Rwanda.

RWANDAIR BOEING 737-700 DELIVERY FLIGHT
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | 
Video | 737 Photos | Rwanda Photos | Destination Story | All

We had taken off from Seattle a day before and had mini-adventures while in Iceland and Turkey. Now RwandAir’s first Boeing 737-800 was on her final leg to Kigali, Rwanda with only about 5.5 hours to go. In Part 1 I talked about pre-departure, then covered what it was like flying from Seattle to Iceland to Turkey in Part 2. In Part 3 I talk about what it was like finally arriving in Kigali to an amazing welcome.

Heading into African airspace on our way to Kigali, Rwanda.

Heading into African airspace on our way to Kigali, Rwanda.

Before the 20hr flight I was concerned about the comfort level of a domestic Boeing 737. I was also afraid of having too much free time on my hands, so I brought a book, downloaded a lot of airline articles and even got some additional games for my iPhone. However, with sleep, socializing and watching 30 minutes of Big Mama 3 (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I did not get bored. It was comfortable having an entire row to myself, but I am sure my tone would have been different if I had shared my row with seat-mates. The back of the plane seemed the place to go if you were looking to get some sleep. Quite a few folks sitting up front made their way to their own rows in economy to stretch and rest.

9,200 miles of adventure. Our route to Kigali.

9,200 miles of adventure. Our route to Kigali.

I had used my electronics quite a bit from Seattle to Iceland to Istanbul. By the time we were on our final leg, they were badly in need of some power. I had forgotten my international power adapter and did not get to charge while in Turkey (luckily someone let me borrow theirs while in Rwanda — thanks Adam). Unfortunately the seats in the back of the plane did not have power outlets, but those in Business class did. I had three different devices plugged into three different seats up front. It was important I was all ready to go when touching down in Rwanda.

While my electronic distractions were charging,I had no problem gazing out the window.  The sky was clear, so it was easy to witness  crossing over to African airspace. It was interesting seeing desert forever, then civilization and green around water. We followed the Nile for a while and it really became clear how a river or water source really creates growth.

Hanging out in the cockpit of RwandAir's Boeing 737-800 while over Africa.

Hanging out in the cockpit of RwandAir's Boeing 737-800 while over Africa.

Although socializing and watching movies can be entertaining, the best form of entertainment is being in the cockpit. Even though my devices weren’t fully charged, I didn’t want to turn down an opportunity to visit the front of the plane while cruising at 39,000 feet to take photos, video and talk to the pilots.

Both pilots at the time had come from the now defunct Olympic Airlines and were very excited about flying the 737-800 — almost to the point of being giddy. They said it was an obvious improvement in performance, ease of use and efficiency. It sounded like there would be a formidable (and friendly) competition to see which pilots would get to fly the new 737-800 vs the older 737-500s in the fleet.

Every time I got up into the cockpit during flight, the calm always surprised me. I don’t know what I really expeced. Maybe the pilots constantly at the controls, talking on the radio, messing with knobs. But during cruise with a modern airliner, they are able to easily take time to enjoy flight. Looking straight out the front windscreen into the limitless blue makes the aircraft feel like it is not even moving. It is a cool experience and it is unfortunate that it is rare for even media to get into the cockpit during flight (and this is only the second airline to allow me to share photos).

RwandAir's Boeing 737-500 looks on.

RwandAir's Boeing 737-500 looks on.

Before we knew it, the plane was starting its descent and we were almost done with our flying adventure. From the hotel to boarding the plane, most of us dressed up. But once on board, we changed into something more comfortable. Now realizing we were getting close to Kigali,  it was time to get back into professional wardrobe. You would have thought with only 30 people on board, there wouldn’t be any lavatory issues, but when so many are trying to change and brush teeth at the same time, it really caused some issues. Ichanged my shirt in the aisle and brushed my teeth in a lavatory being used to store drinks. A guy has gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. Luckily everyone was ready to go and seated by the time we were flying low over Kigali.

We were told we would do a low fly over the airport before circling around to land. As we kept getting lower and lower, some of us became certain that the fly-by was cancelled and we were going to land. Kudos to the pilot since we buzzed the tarmac just a few feet off the ground before pulling up, circling around and landing.

Our flight buzzed the airport before coming in for a landing. That is one nice fly-by. Photo from RwandAir.

Our flight buzzed the airport before coming in for a landing. That is one nice fly-by. Photo from RwandAir.

People on board the airplane cheered as we landed and taxied to the tarmac. Two fire trucks gave us an official water salute as we pulled into the airport and before getting off the plane we could see a group of dancers starting to make their way out towards the plane.

It is hard to describe what it is like to be jet-lagged and stepping off a plane that just flew from Seattle to Rwanda with people dancing, music playing and people wanting to shake your hand. This was an amazing moment for almost everyone there and the most impressive welcome I have ever experienced.

Upon landing we were greeted by dancers, local media and VIP guests.

Upon landing we were greeted by dancers, local media and VIP guests.

After things calmed down, we headed through customs and over to a special tent where additional guests were seating. All the important dignitaries and the airline CEO spoke and talked about the importance of this proud achievement.

The plane was not just carrying people over to Africa. Boeing has a program called Humanitarian Delivery Flights that, “humanitarian items; such as, medical supplies, clothing, and educational materials, are loaded into the empty cargo space of new airplanes being delivered and transported to a customer’s home destination.” On this flight, there were 1500 educational books that were being delivered to the Rotary Club of Kigali to be distributed to high schools, universities and libraries around the country. Boeing partnered with RwandAir and Operation USA to help deliver the books and there were a group of children at the celebration to accept them.

Some RwandAir pilots and me hanging during the post delivery reception.

Some RwandAir pilots and me hanging during the post delivery reception.

We all had some food, drinks and great conversations, but after our long journey, it was time to head to the Kigali Serena Hotel. I was not quite sure what to expect of my accommodations when staying in Rwanda. For some reason I kept picturing a bed with a bug net and a generator providing electricity. It is my own fault for not being informed, but it was a nice surprise to find that the hotel was way beyond my expectations. They even offered free Wi-Fi internet which can be hard to find in many American hotels.

The hotel was one of many interesting experiences during my four day stay in Kigali. Stay tuned for my Destination Rwanda story coming soon, followed by a video documenting the delivery flight. Until then…

VIEW ALL 90 PHOTOS FROM THE TRIP TO KIGALI

RWANDAIR BOEING 737-700 DELIVERY FLIGHT
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Video | 737 Photos | Rwanda Photos | Destination Story | All

RwandAir's first Boeing 737-800 sits in a hangar at Boeing Field.

RwandAir's first Boeing 737-800 sits in a hangar at Boeing Field.

What does a Boeing 737 mean to you? For most, it is a common airliner found around the world. For many airlines, it is an reliable revenue-making machine. However, for others it is more than just the sum of its parts. For RwandAir and the country of Rwanda it represents progress and national pride that no one can put a price tag on.

Rwanda is a country with a troubled past (I will go into more about that in a future story), but they have come so far in a very short amount of time. It is a land locked country, looking to grow. To successfully do so, they need a viable air transportation infrastructure. RwandAir operations were started in 2003 to help Rwanda achieve that goal.

Boeing gave RwandAir keys to the plane. No, they are not needed to start the plane.

Boeing gave RwandAir keys to the plane. No, they are not needed to start the plane.

RwandAir recently took delivery of their first new airliner ever: a Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior. I was invited to tag along for the delivery and the flight of the aircraft from Seattle (SEA) to Kigali, Rwanda (KGL). I was able to stay a few days in Rwanda and learne more about the culture, the people and the drive to grow as a nation. I will share these experiences in a multi-part series from the pre-delivery dinner to my experiences in Rwanda.

How does an airline get a plane made to only fly about 3,000 miles from Seattle to Rwanda? I did not know, but I surely wanted to find out. The adventure started with a special dinner held at the Museum of Flight under an SR-71. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not only about getting a new airplane, but it was about celebrating the progress that Rwanda as a country has made.

Before leaving, the 737-800 was pulled in front of a 787 Dreamliner.

Before leaving, the 737-800 was pulled in front of a 787 Dreamliner.

During his passionate speech during dinner, the CEO of RwandAir, John Mirenge, stated that he knows “what aviation can do to change lives and nations.” Mirenge hopes to continue to build his airline with additional aircraft (including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner) and vows to come back to Seattle, “We will be regular visitors in this town. It is a dream come true.” As previously reported, RwandAir hopes to reach 12 aircraft in the next five years and to 18 aircraft by 2020. The dinner eventually wound down and people prepared for the long flight starting the next day.

Originally, the delivery flight was supposed to take off at 11am on Thursday August 23rd. There were two delays that happened, but since we were only a group of about 30 and we had no formal plans, it did not matter too much. The first delay of 2pm was because the airline wanted to install their in-flight entertainment software, which takes three hours and they cannot start the process until the money is exchanged. However, there were some computer issues and a power blackout at the bank, which resulted in a delay in transferring the money. Luckily it finally came through, but the flight ended up being delayed an additional 3.5 hours to about 5:30pm.

The new Boeing Sky Interior is pretty slick, especially for a flight which will take about 20 hours.

The new Boeing Sky Interior is pretty slick, especially for a flight which will take about 20 hours.

This was okay since Boeing had RwandAir’s 737 in a hangar with food, drinks and music, giving us an opportunity to check out the aircraft. After we realized how long the delay was going to be, Boeing got a shuttle van and drove everyone to a local bar to have some drinks. It was quite awesome to have the CEO of RwandAir serve you a beer.

We were not there too long before we got the word it was time to go. We all piled back into the shuttle bus and headed back to the Delivery Center. Before being able to board the aircraft, everyone has to go through security, just like you would at the airport, but these security guards  seemed nicer than those found in airports. While we were enjoying our beer, Boeing had the 737 towed right in front of the delivery center. After a few more photos, it was time to get on board to start our adventure.

Our flight taxiing at Boeing Field. Taken by Andrew W. Sieber.

Our flight taxiing at Boeing Field. Taken by Andrew W. Sieber.

Seats were not assigned and I had the pick of almost any row in economy. I first went straight to the exit rows, thinking I was being smart, but darn it. The armrests in those rows did not move, so they were no good. I decided on Row 14 and I took over seats A through F for me and all my stuff. Even with having an entire row, I wasn’t too sure if I would remain comfortable during an almost 20 hour flight.

I could feel the excitement and enthusiasm on the aircraft as we were pushed back to taxi out. As we moved down the taxi way, I could see Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 747-8’s out the windows — that never gets old. We taxied to the end of the runway and took off quite quickly due to the light load. We were off on our big adventure — next stop Iceland, then a night in Istanbul before arriving in Kigali, Rwanda to a cheering (and dancing) crowd.

RWANDAIR BOEING 737-700 DELIVERY FLIGHT
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Video | 737 Photos | Rwanda Photos | Destination Story | All