On this day…

The only Boeing Dash-80 ever built flies over the Olympic Peninsula

Fifty-three years ago today, the famed Rockwell Polar flight came to an end. I’m particularly fond of this historical milestone because it took place in none other than the Boeing 707—one of my all-time favorite birds.

The roughly 60-hour flight was piloted by two retired TWA captains: Fred Lester Austin, Jr., and Harrison Finch. Willard Rockwell—founder of the Rockwell Corporation—paid most of the costs associated with the record-breaking flight. Rockwell himself was on board, along with 12 other observers, nine scientists, five news people, two communicators, three navigators, three flight engineers and five pilots. Together, these 40 were the first people to fly around the world over both poles, and they did so in a brand spanking new 707 they called the Pole Cat.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I love the 707 as much as I do… I think it’s mainly because of its roots—it was derived from the one-of-a-kind Dash 80, a famous yellow and brown four-engine prototype with *dashing* retro flare. I’ve not yet seen that sole Dash 80, which today lives at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles Airport. However, it WILL be the next model I purchase at The Boeing Store, which reminds me… only 44 days left to use my once-a-year 30 percent discount! Eeek!

That, my friends, is all I have for today. Keep calm and fly on!

Why?

SURPRISE: I live and breathe aviation.

There is just something about those big metal birds and all they’re capable of that has me falling more in love with them every day.

It’s not just about how majestic they look or how loud their engines roar…  and it’s certainly not just about who made them… or who bought them and how that customer chose to paint them—though I DO love a special livery!

It’s about more than aesthetics and superficialities—in fact, what I love most about airplanes directly correlates with what I love most about stories: the “why” behind them.

Every time I interview for a job, I make a point to tell the hiring manager how incredibly important it is to me to know that my work has purpose. Before I dive into anything, and I mean anything, I ask myself “Why?” It’s just part of how I am and how I think we all are as humans—when your heart’s not in it, it shows.

So, a huge part of why I love airplanes as much as I do is because of their “Why?” As much as I’d like to believe all the 747s, A340s and DC-10s are flying purely for my visual pleasure, that’s just not the case. They’re uniting families, they’re bringing people of all ages to places they’ve never been, they’re carrying your mail… your packages, and they’re delivering supplies to people and countries in need.

Aviation is about so much more than bringing families to Disney World or getting you and me across the ocean. It’s altogether about so much more than transporting people… take the air cargo market, for example. It’s growing really, really fast, and I think that’s something a lot of non-AV geeks don’t really realize. Even if you’ve never flown, your life is so dependent on the aviation industry… just watch “Living in the Age of Airplanes” and you’ll get it.

At any given moment, there are nearly 10,000 planes in the sky carrying more than a million people and a heck of a lot of cargo—cars, animals, food, you name it. That’s remarkable, don’t you think?

So, that my friends, is why I love aviation. Aren’t you glad you asked?