Up Close With the Queen of the Skies!

Hey now, hey now, this is what dreams are made of…

Every semester Embry-Riddle has a career fair, and for the Spring 2023 semester, Atlas Air brought one of their 747-400s for students to tour. The aircraft left Miami and landed on Monday, and in true Embry-Riddle fashion, plenty of students watched it land. And, of course, I was watching with them.

Since the aircraft is, well, a jumbo jet, there wasn’t a whole lot of space to park it on the Riddle ramp. It ended up parking across the ramp, and the tour included bussing students over to the other area. I signed up for the 2:30-3:45 spot since I didn’t have class for most of Thursday afternoon.

I checked in for the tour at 2:15 in the aviation maintenance science building. I was early, so I waited around a bit until everyone was checked in before we got onto the charter bus that took us over to the other ramp. From there, we walked in a single-file line through the gate, onto airport property, and to the 747, which was fenced off. It was amazing to see up close and a rare chance, so I’m glad I got a spot on the tour. There were stairs pulled up to the side of it, and climbing the stairs made me realize just how large it was.

When we got into the aircraft, the large group was divided into a few smaller groups. First I saw the crew rest area towards the back of the plane and even got to climb up the stairs to it. The area up there isn’t big, but it was still cool to see. From there, my group went to the first class section- while Atlas Air operates cargo, they also do charters, and the 747 that they brought had a VIP passenger configuration. The first class was really nice- I’ve never experienced first class on other airlines, but the seats could convert to lay-flat beds, and that’s definitely nice.

One of the first class seats! It was really nice.

Finally, our group headed to the flight deck. The flight deck of a 747 is smaller than I thought it would be, and it’s definitely high up. I looked out the window and I was able to see the ERAU campus and all the way down the runway where a Delta flight was taxiing out.

After that, it was pretty much individual exploration. You were free to walk around inside the aircraft or around it, and I went back outside to walk around. There were a lot of people on the ground ensuring everyone was safe, but we were able to get super close to the aircraft, including the engines and the wheels. The APU (auxiliary power unit) was on, and the wind made the engines spin a bit. It was definitely cool to see.

Seriously, 747s are huge. I couldn’t touch the engine, even if I wanted to.

Even though I only had about 40 minutes with the aircraft, it was definitely worth it. The tour was free, but it’s something that I would’ve paid money to see, too. It’s definitely a uniquely Embry-Riddle experience that an airline will bring a 747 and allow students to tour it. I wonder if there will be any more surprise aircraft visitors this year- the F-15 that showed up a couple of weeks ago was definitely unexpected! Until then, I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Short Trip to Seattle

This week, I am in the Seattle/Tacoma area from Monday to Thursday. I will be joining the Aircraft Programs team for the inspection of our 19th and last Boeing 777 to be delivered from Everett, Washington next week. It was the first time I was flying as a non-revenue passenger.

Beautiful sunset over the SeaTac area.

Beautiful sunset over the SeaTac area.

One of the perk of working as a summer intern for an airline are the travel privileges. Some airlines allow you to fly on standby on all of their flights if seats are available. Employees only have to pay taxes and other related fees. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to discover Air Canada’s network this summer since the air carrier requires its employees to work for six months before being granted flight benefits.

My first flight was from Montreal to Toronto. I then flew from Toronto to Seattle.  I was upgraded on both of my flights! For the short 53-minute flight to Toronto, I was flying on an Airbus A330 featuring fully lie-flat beds. The aircraft was completely empty. Only 10 of the 37 upfront premium seats were occupied. On the second flight I was onboard an Embraer 190, the smallest mainline aircraft in our fleet.

Cheese plate and nuts offered in Business Class from Montreal to Toronto.

Cheese plate and nuts offered in Business Class from Montreal to Toronto.

Chicken or pasta was served as the main course on the flight to Seattle.

Chicken or pasta was served as the main course on the flight to Seattle.

Paine Field is where I will spend the next couple of days. The airport is home of Boeing where it completes the assembly of the 747s, 767s, 777s, and 787s aircraft. The Boeing 737 family of aircraft is made in Renton, WA. Our team will be inspecting the aircraft because it wants to makes sure everything works well on the aircraft before delivery. I will write a story about this exciting trip very soon.

Until next time!


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu