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Through the years my tastes, if you can call them that, in aviation have mostly been for military aircraft. There is just something so intriguing to me about the complexity of these machines. Flight alone is a hard to accomplish phenomenon. When you add intercepting and shooting down another flying aircraft to the equation, even within visual range, things get exponentially more complex. However, in the past 5 years or so I have found myself increasingly drawn to other aspects of aviation, specifically small Short Takeoff or Landing (STOL) airplanes and commercial airliners. I will talk about STOL aircraft another time, for now I want to talk briefly about airliners.

A Delta L-1011, the aircraft I first that gave me my first taste of commercial aviation


My first experience with commercial aviation was a non-stop trip from Atlanta to Honolulu when I about 10. As someone who had grown up loving all the airplanes that I saw flying from Robins Air Force base, it was an eye opening experience to be on this sleek airliner screaming through the sky at 35,000 feet. From that point forward I had an interest in the big commercial jets. Two of the most recent, the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A-380, are two of my new favorites.

The A-380 is all about size. There is some remarkable technology at work that makes an airplane of this type even possible, but the size is what impresses people. Words are not usually enough to describe how big and imposing this airplane is, and I have a feeling (having unfortunately never seen one in person) that nothing really prepares you for how big it is in person. With that in mind, the next best thing is video.

The Boeing 787, while a large aircraft, is a showcase for technology. The aircraft features composite construction, fuel economizing features and promises to be one of the most comfortable aircraft for passengers around. The passenger comfort part of the equation is an interesting one. The 787 features larger windows that electronically tint instead of having pull down shades (those large windows are made possible by the composites used to build the aircraft), LED lighting inside, ease of use features for those with disabilities, higher air humidity levels and a cabin air pressurization altitude that is lower than other aircraft. The 787 is a beautiful aircraft in flight, with the composite structure having some very graceful lines to it and is almost eerily quiet (thanks to some interesting engine technology) for an aircraft as big and powerful as it is. See for yourself below.

The business end of a 787 engine

–          Arthur Sullivan, Assistant Curator

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