The Blue Angels are known for their high precision, mesmerizing aerobatic shows. What is it like to be around and fly with such an elite group for a day? Simply put: inspiring. Maybe it’s their outstanding skill, balanced with admirable humbleness which is so inspiring, or their thorough understanding of every maneuver that must be made – or perhaps it’s just their snazzy uniforms. Either way, here is your inside look into riding with the Blue Angels.
Low, steep bank in residential area – Photo: Kassy Coan | AirlineReporter
The demonstration flight on the C-130, known as “Fat Albert,” while not on one of the F/A-18 fighter jets, it is still a thrilling flight made of both positive and negative G-forces. I was lucky enough to be invited to a demonstration flight over Seattle this past Friday, during the SeaFair show. The experience forces up to 2G, causing me to feel up to double my weight. The negative-G experience, also known as weightlessness, was (according to the cheers on-board) the best part.
Preparing for flight, we had a briefing of what to expect. On at least three different occasions, I was asked if I get motion sickness and told how to puke in a low-G environment. Pro tip: remember to close the barf bag!
It was exciting, but also intimidating to hear the speed and confidence with which each maneuver was explained. The intensity and timing of every turn, ascent and descent, is planned in advance. While I’ve never gotten motion sickness before, and I’ve always been a roller-coaster junkie, even I was beginning to second-guess myself.
747-8F Flying Over 2011 Seafair Race. Photo by Boeing/Leo Dejillas. Click for larger.
Today, Boeing announced that the new 747-8 Freighter has received certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This means the new jumbo-jet is in the final stages before being delivered to Cargolux. Boeing is expecting the first 747-8F to be delivered to Cargolux in, “early September.”
“This is such a great day for everyone on the 747 team,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes stated in a Boeing press release. “Over the last several years, this team has overcome challenge after challenge. Through their hard work and dedication, they have ensured that the 747, the Queen of the Skies, will fly for decades to come.” Boeing is expecting the passenger version, the 747-8 Intercontinental, will be delivered to Lufthansa Airlines sometime during the fourth quarter. Check out this Boeing video on the 747-8F testing process.
So, the big question is, which airliner will be delivered first? The Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the 747-8F. Either way, it is looking like September will be one awesome month for airline geeks around the world (and for Cargolux and All Nippon Airways).
About the photo: During Seattle’s Seafair, Boeing flew one of their 747-8F over Lake Washington. Although there was no Tex Johnston-like roll, I hear it was still a great site to see. This photo was taken by Leo Dejillas (and found on Randy Tinseth’s blog). I am assuming the photo was taken from one of Boeing’s T-38 chase planes. I think it does a nice job representing how great Seattle is, for how many other cities get a low fly over of a brand new aircraft on a sunny Sunday? (thanks Liz for helping me get my facts on the Seafair flyover straight — she was there and I wasn’t)
Boeing Dash 80 barrel roll above Seattle Seafair, August, 1955. Photo from Boeing. Click for larger.
If you haven’t seen the video of the first Boeing 707 (called the Dash 80 at the time) completing a barrel rolled by legend Tex Johnston, you might not fully appreciate this photo to the fullest. From Boeing’s Flickr page:
“In August, 1955, Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston performed a now legendary barrel roll of the Model 367-80 as part of that year’s Seafair festival on Lake Washington. This photo was taken by co-pilot Jim Gannett.
Known as the Dash 80, this airplane was the prototype for the 707 commercial plane and KC-135 military refueling jet.
The 707 helped move commercial aviation into the jet age and was the first to carry the now iconic “7 series” Boeing model designation.
The Dash 80 today is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C.”
This is the first Boeing 367-80 (Dash 80) was the prototype for what became the KC-135 and the Boeing 707. Photo by Boeing.
The punch-line is that Boeing did not know that Tex was going to do the barrel roll. The idea was to show the public and potential airline customers that the 707 was safe. From a previous interview with Boeing Historian Michael Lombardi, he explained, “Then you have Tex Johnson who did the barrel roll, doing his part to get people feeling that jets were safe’¦ that was the whole idea. Before that the British had come out with the Comet and it had a few problems. Because of the comets problems, coming apart at altitude, the public view of jets was that they were just not safe.”
Seattle’s Seafair is going on once again this weekend and the Boeing 747-8 is scheduled to fly on Sunday, August 7th at 3:50pm over the crowds, much like the Boeing 707 did 56 years ago. Currently, it has not known if it will be the 747-8 Freighter or the 747-8 Intercontinental, but I am hoping for the glowing orange 747-8I. Just don’t expect any barrel rolls!