|From Seattle Spotting 2012|
I had read reports and articles in the past of those people lucky enough to get to experience a first flight of an aircraft. A ferry flight from the factory to some far off destination, heralding the start of a new era for an airline or perhaps just an aircraft being sent on its way after emerging with that “new plane” smell.
Well little did I know that I would some day get that chance. I had been doing a bit of work for AirlineReporter.com, writing a few stories for the site every now and then. Getting to see and do all different things. I had reviewed Bolt Bus, witnessed the Super Guppy Arrival, even acted as the “Staff Photographer” for the United 787 launch (or as I was referencing it, I was David’s bitch for the morning). All of this was a dream come true in some way, shape or form. I mean how else would I get access to all of these fantastic things and see or do the most amazing experiences.
The one thing I was truly jealous of though was when David (who runs airlinereporter) got to go on the Delivery flight for the LAN 787. Getting to experience the festivities and the fun that a first flight offers. That was a dream come true. Well my turn was next! David was offered the Qatar Airways delivery flight, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it. It was fairly short notice (about a week) and though he wasn’t able to make it, he offered the journey to me. I had to take leave that I had planned on using to go elsewhere but I mean what avgeek would turn down this situation? This was like a dream come true. I dropped everything. It was bad timing though for me as it was due to depart the day after I got back from Vegas so it was going to be tight, but to hell with it. I had to keep it a secret from most people, I told one or two people of course so people knew where/what I was doing. But for the most part, no one knew a thing.
Originally I was due to return the day after we got back, after not really seeing anything at all in Qatar. But work allowed me to add in some extra time after agreeing to do some stuff work wise on the trip, and also Qatar Airways were happy to set me up for a few extra days and let me tour around Qatar. The flights were all booked and the last of the details didn’t come through till a day or two prior to departure (but I guess that’s what happens when your waiting on an Aircraft to be signed off for delivery).
Plans were made, things organized and the excitement just was to much for me at times. I was absolutely over the moon to be able to get to do this, but I also didn’t want to stuff things up on my first ever time as a true correspondant for the site. I wanted to make sure I not only did things right by David and Airline Reporter, but to make sure I didn’t take things for granted with Qatar Airways. I wanted to make sure that their faith in inviting someone from the site would be worth it.
Even though I was going to miss out on a number of events on the Monday that I really wanted to experience (factory floor tour, Dreamliner gallery etc) with my return from Vegas it had to be done unfortunately. So my plans would look as follows:
Monday 12th November: Delivery Ceremony & Celebration Dinner
Tuesday 13th November: Aircraft Departs Seattle 9am
Wednesday 14th November: Aircraft Arrives Doha 2pm – Celebrations and Press Conference on Arrival
Thursday 15th November: Tour of New Doha International Airport, City Tour & Inland Sea Safari
Friday 16th November: Hotel Site Inspections for work, Afternoon at Katara
Saturday 17th November: Free time in the Morning, Aternoon at Katara
Sunday 18th November: Doha Premium Terminal, Depart Doha QR77 to Houston connecting to Seattle
I was booked in Business on the return (even though I was happy to sit in Economy if I had to) so that I could experience the Premium Terminal before departing. I was going to ensure that I made the most of that experience as I had read a few reviews of the facility and they were all very tempting.
What made the experience even more special was the fact that I figured we would be departing from Paine Field, so getting to depart direct from the Factory was going to be a privilege. But the departure ended up being scheduled from Boeing Field instead, so still a pretty great privilege. The crazy thing though. We were going DIRECT to Doha on departure. This is a 7500 mile flight. A True test for the 787. But as it turned out there would only be 90 pax onboard so it could easily make it with the limited weight.
The return via Houston would mean a midnight arrival back into Seattle and a hellish Monday morning after only a few hours sleep but these are the sacrifices you make to have an opportunity like this. The flights when put into a map just added in the most craziest of distances:
7500 miles from Seattle to Doha, 8000 miles from Doha to Houston! This was craziness. A number of firsts on this trip to. First time flying Qatar Airways, Longest flight so far (Doha to Houston), Three new Airports: Boeing Field (BFI), Houston (IAH), Doha (DOH). Two new aircraft types (787 & 777-200LR) would round out the mix. I did manage to get a trifecta on the delivery flight being New Airport, New Airline & New Aircraft to my collection. An Avgeek trifecta on this epic Journey. Good god!
It was due to be a momentous trip that would I am sure mean lack of sleep, craziness, mingling, networking and just a total lack of diet control (I can deal with it after) and all in the lead up to Thanksgiving. At least I would have a day off mid week to catch up!