AMERICAS: Boeing’s Model 40 meets the 787 Dreamliner at 12,000ft

Boeing’s latest commercial aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, caught up to its very early predecessor, a Boeing Model 40, in the skies over Mount Rainier south of Seattle in early May. The fully restored 1928 vintage Boeing Model 40 is the only flyable Model 40 in the world and the oldest flying Boeing aircraft of any […]


Boeing’s latest commercial aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, caught up to its very early predecessor, a Boeing Model 40, in the skies over Mount Rainier south of Seattle in early May. The fully restored 1928 vintage Boeing Model 40 is the only flyable Model 40 in the world and the oldest flying Boeing aircraft of any kind. The Model 40 is notable not only as Boeing’s first production commercial airplane, but its innovation and efficiency were the deciding factor in Boeing Air Transport (the airline subsidiary of the Boeing Airplane Company) winning the lucrative Oakland-to-Chicago air mail route in 1927. That event set William Boeing on a course that, within just two years, would take him from managing his airplane company in Seattle to presiding over a vast nationwide aviation empire called United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC). The 787 and Model 40, both the technological leaders of their time, represent 80 years of Commercial Airplanes leadership and clearly illustrate the dramatic progress in airplane design, Boeing said.

Taking a very short break from the 787 programme’s intensive flight test program, Boeing chief test pilot Mike Carriker manoeuvred the first 787, ZA001, into formation with the Model 40 at 12,000 feet to enable the unique photo-op. “It really took a lot of work and planning,” Carriker said. “When I came alongside the Model 40 against those big puffy clouds it was unbelievable: Here is this 1928 biplane flying with a 2010 airplane side by side. How amazing the history of The Boeing Company is – it was really exciting.”