Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flight creates excitement around MYR

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane flew through Myrtle Beach Wednesday as part of the company's test flights for the airplane model. The plane used in the flight was made at the company's plant in Everett, Washington. Delivery employees are using the plane to practice before the company makes its first deliveries of the plane in South Carolina.

The flight allowed pilots and other employees to familiarize themselves with large airports near Boeing's Charleston area assembly plants. In addition to Myrtle Beach, they flew the 787 through Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston airports.

The flight also allowed Boeing to continue the training of its South Carolina employees who will be testing the airplanes built in the low country.

The test flight was originally supposed to land Tuesday, however, Boeing announced the flight would be delayed 24 hours without a reason.

"Yesterday we came, and we waited, and we waited, and we waited and we waited - nothing," explained Suzan Lockwood.

She and her husband went to the runway observation area at War Bird Park in Myrtle Beach. About 25 others were also watching from the same area.

"Anytime you can see something unique is always a good thing, especially when the kids can enjoy it create that memory inside them," commented Sarah Lee.

The 787 will likely never be used for commercial flights in Myrtle Beach, so the test flights could be a rare opportunity to see the plane in the Grand Strand. Many people wanted to see how big the plane is, and just before 11:30 a.m. they got their chance.

The 787 is not Boeing's biggest plane. Depending on the model, the 787 is about the size of a 777, and it is smaller than a 747. There are two models of the 787 that will hold between 210 and 290 passengers.

What sets the 787 apart is its brand new design and technology. Boeing says the 787 uses 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized airplanes, and it is made of 50 percent composite instead of metal - including the fuselage and the wings.

"Oh my gosh, seeing this big plane, it was amazing we got to see it," said Jan Elkins.

The plane did not even touch the runway. However, onlookers were able to get a good look at it - a brief look. Susan Cyr was almost at a loss for words at the sight.

"I thought it looked really sleek, really pretty," Cyr said. "It looks like something out of the... out of the... It just looks really modern, really sleek, a lot different. It's just... I don't know, pretty, I don't know how to explain it.

"I wish it had done more than one, so that I could have seen it again, but it was a great experience."

Myrtle Beach International Airport Spokesperson Lauren Morris said she expect future 787 test flight at MYR, but Boeing does not have a set schedule.

Morris said Boeing chose MYR and the other airports throughout South Carolina because the company needs long runways for the testing. The runway is 9,500 feet long, and because of the old Air Force Base it is built to Department of Defense specifications, Morris said.

MYR is also relatively close to the factory that builds the airplanes in North Charleston. The Dreamliner will also make use of the airport's advanced navigation system that for example, can be used to help pilots land and take off in low visibility conditions.

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