FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: The sun shone — sometimes. Well, once in a while. But regardless of the weather here crowds turned out to watch the planes, especially the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Its sleek composite frame complemented the subtle bend of the wings as the plane took off and banked.
The 787’s pilot was praised by the announcer (yes, they have an announcer at the air show who tells people what plane is flying, offers technical explanation of the maneuvers and discusses the pilots’ qualifications and special skills) for staying within 100 feet of his programmed flight path even as he banked sharply and wandered through the clouds.
The 787 provides one benefit — thanks to its largely composite material airframe — that I can’t wait to experience. I fly to Australia from Washington DC every few years to visit my wife’s family. The effects of dried out sinuses is debilitating and the cure, snorting sterile saline solution, may work but — yech. Because the 787 doesn’t rely on what the folks here call aluminium, Boeing was able to increase humidity levels from four to 15 percent, with the cabin pressure set at 6,000 feet, compared to 8,000 feet on other aircraft.
The plane’s engines are impressively quiet, even heard from about 150 feet from the runway and it’s supposed to be quieter for passengers as well. My colleagues at engaget.com flew on one of the first 787 flights and they offer this intriguing description of the plane’s lighting:
“Depending on how the flight attendants have the aircraft configured, you may board the Dreamliner to a rainbow of LED lights, alternating colors throughout the cabin. The 787 is a bulbless plane that trades traditional florescent lights for a variety of single- and tricolor LEDs. Without the dramatic rainbow effect, the lighting appears natural at first glance — until the colors change, you may not notice that thousands of bright, cool LEDs are illuminating the cabin. You’ll also find LEDs inside those individual overhead reading lights, along with gooseneck lamps in the premium cabin.”
So much for the 787. One of my favorite moments at the airshow was captured by our cameraman, Scott Corben. When the F-18 is shown, note the fellow kicking the tires. That’s what it’s all about — getting up close and personal with the planes!