WALLA WALLA -- An aerial celebrity made a flying visit here Saturday.
People lucky enough to be looking towards Walla Walla Regional Airport about 3 p.m. saw a gleaming blue-and-white jetliner make a low pass over the airport, then fly away. The rakish twin-engined aircraft was unlike any other private or commercial planes normally seen at the facility.
The mystery visitor, it turns out, was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner doing a "low approach," said Jennifer Skolund, airport manager. "Pretty exciting! I can't believe I missed it," she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. A low approach is when an aircraft flies close to the runway, but does not actually touch down.
Jim Proulx, Boeing Commercial Airplanes media relations manager, confirmed the sighting.
The aircraft was marked with the letters "ANA" on its tail, which stands for All Nippon Airways. "That company is the launch customer for the 787. Because it was painted thus, it assures me that was Airplane No. 2," he said in an e-mail. Four Dreamliners are now being flight tested and two more will be added to the fleet soon.
The 787 is the first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. The four airplanes now flying have logged more than 820 hours of flying in the last six months, according to a company release.
Unfortunately for local aviation buffs, there's no chance of getting advance notice of another flyover, Proulx said.
"We don't give forward information on where our airplanes are going to be, so I can't tell you if (or) when it might hit your airport again," he wrote.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.