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.
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.
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!