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332 MPH fly-by at 28 feet in a Boeing 777-300ER  (Source: Liem Bahneman)

First comes the champagne, then comes the axe.  (Source: Telegraph)
Cathay Pacific pilot fired for 28 foot fly-by in a brand new Boeing 777-300ER

When it comes to American commercial airliners, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has received the majority of the press for the past two years. The 787 uses advanced engines and composite materials to achieve remarkable fuel economy for an aircraft its size.

However, the older Boeing 777-300ER is making news due to the actions of one daring pilot. Captain Ian Wilkinson decided to make the most of the maiden voyage of the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER by showing off the capabilities of the aircraft.

Captain Wilkinson made a 332 MPH pass of the airport control tower at a height of just 28 feet. Onboard the aircraft were Cathay Pacific airline executives who were "stunned into silence", while on the ground stood cheering ground crew.

"We heard afterwards he was asked to do a fly-by of the factory and decided to give them a flight they would never forget," said one Cathay Pacific inside. "But why he chose to do it with the chairman on board is anyone's guess."

Passengers and the flight crew of the brand new 777-300ER toasted Captain Wilkinson with champagne after the fly-by. That might have been the end of the event if it weren’t for the Internet -- a video of the low fly-by found its way to YouTube and Wilkinson soon was suspended, and then later fired for his actions.

"If no one else had found out about it, the incident would probably have gone no further, but once it began circulating on the internet and Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Authority got hold of it, that was the end of him," said a senior pilot for Cathay Pacific.

Captain Wilkinson, who has lived in Hong Kong for the past 15 years, is said to be considering an appeal of his termination -- considering that Wilkinson was pulling down nearly $500,000 USD a year as a pilot, it a near certainty that he will go through with the appeal.

"Wilkinson was showing off, and most of the pilots might be sympathetic, but they feel that he got what he deserved when he was sacked," added Cathay Pacific senior pilot who wished to remain nameless.

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Good show.
By eye smite on 2/25/2008 10:56:50 AM , Rating: 4
I can see where he had fun, but that was a lot of risk to take with any aircraft, especially one that size. I'm sure if his appeal doesn't get his job back he'll find work at a good salary somewhere. That was ballsy. lol

RE: Good show.
By eye smite on 2/25/2008 10:58:36 AM , Rating: 4
Here's the link for the flyby. lmao

RE: Good show.
By pauluskc on 2/25/2008 11:10:02 AM , Rating: 2
is every frame of that fly-by "video" glued together from a different film? yuck.

RE: Good show.
By gradoman on 2/25/2008 12:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
Lol @ video. It's more of a slide show, but that's alright. It's not as exciting as the barrel roll done to show off the 707's abilities.

Pretty lame that this guy got fired for the low flyby.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: Good show.
By Mitch101 on 2/25/2008 6:20:30 PM , Rating: 5
on the ground stood cheering ground crew

In your view I guess they were screaming for their lives not cheering him on.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Good show.
By 91TTZ on 2/26/2008 1:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
WOW, what a coward.

RE: Good show.
By sporr on 2/27/2008 2:07:05 PM , Rating: 1
He did a low fly by................

NOT a Pugachev's Cobra.

There's taking things out of hand and then there's THIS.

RE: Good show.
By Ryanman on 2/28/2008 3:01:17 PM , Rating: 1
I was checking out the dictionary a couple days ago, and under "self-rigteous fearful Jackass" I saw your picture. Might wanna check up on that.

RE: Good show.
By xti on 2/26/2008 3:45:45 PM , Rating: 3
dont worry, the ground crew consists of 1 WAHmbulance.

RE: Good show.
By 306maxi on 2/27/2008 3:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
LOL that's the funniest thing I've read today.

RE: Good show.
By Polynikes on 2/25/2008 11:08:18 AM , Rating: 5
I'd hire him. Clearly he knows what he's doing.

However, if he pulled another stunt like that, I'd push to get his license revoked.

RE: Good show.
By Mitch101 on 2/25/2008 11:31:05 AM , Rating: 5
Considering how much publicity this is getting because of him they should give him a raise.

When you put the top people on a plane like this you put your best pilot in charge. They should have more faith in the pilot of their plane. Instead they are showing they have fear in their pilot and planes ability/quality.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/2008 11:45:39 AM , Rating: 1
In most businesses endangering lives for no reason is frowned upon.

RE: Good show.
By TheDoc9 on 2/25/2008 12:01:11 PM , Rating: 3
I actually agree with mitch101 on this, it ALWAYS better to have a balsey attitude then one of submission. And honestly I highly doubt there best pilot was putting anyone in serious danger although anything is possible esp. if he has a big ego.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By pauluskc on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By Ringold on 2/25/2008 7:31:55 PM , Rating: 3
Do you know what "fun" is?

Should of he been fired? Probably. Does he deserve your level of disdain? Not at all.

Besides, you should see a few of the tricks they do with business jets at the NBAA convention.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/26/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By fleshconsumed on 2/25/2008 12:24:22 PM , Rating: 5
What Mitch said is true though. Regardless of how you view the low fly by stunt - whether you think it was a testament to the pilot skill or just reckless behavior, they could have turned it into a great publicity effort as in "we are so confident in our pilots that we trust them with our lives" sort of stuff. Instead they just sent a message that their pilots are immature show offs.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/2008 12:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree with that. This isn't Hollywood. In real business bad publicity is bad publicity. Companies like this don't need to rely on gimmicks. Even his fellow pilots said that he was just showing off and got what was coming to him.

RE: Good show.
By jbartabas on 2/25/2008 1:27:38 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I'm sure that millions of people who simply hate flying but do it because they have to will now fly Cathay Pacific whose pilots clearly wipe their a*** with regulations or basic safety principles just to show off. Great publicity indeed ...

RE: Good show.
By KristopherKubicki on 2/25/2008 1:40:12 PM , Rating: 4
Cathay was founded by ex-U.S. aces after WWII. This is in their blood.

I've seen much more asinine stuff, but I don't condone this either. The guy had to know he was going to get fired for doing this. Of course, it's possible he didn't care either -- that ace mentality again :)

RE: Good show.
By eye smite on 2/25/2008 4:32:50 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sure he did care at a half million dollars a year salary. I'm betting he didn't think he'd get the reaction he did much less suspended and then

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
But was it for no reason? It obviously raised the spirits of the ground crew and passengers, promoted confidence and ability in their new plane.

Until management caved to public opinion and in effect reversed that by saying they lacked confidence.

RE: Good show.
By maverick85wd on 2/25/2008 4:32:28 PM , Rating: 3
my favorite line:
"But why he chose to do it with the chairman on board is anyone's guess."
... LOL!

Personally I would pay a little extra to be on a plane piloted by this guy, especially if he got ballsy with passengers in the plane . He obviously knew what he was doing, and I think routine airline flights are pretty boring. :-D

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 5:44:05 PM , Rating: 1
if you have a deadwish - hang yourself (or pay someone to do it for you) - dont do it by stunting with an 250 million, 100+ton, fully feuled airframe

RE: Good show.
By Mitch101 on 2/25/2008 6:18:24 PM , Rating: 2
Your assumption is that the Pilot is suicidal. I'm sure he knows the limits of the aircraft and didn't feel he was pushing the craft beyond its limits.

If there was any indication he has suicidal tendencies then he wouldn't be allowed to pilot a plane of this expense carrying these members.

I think this shows that Cathay Pacific airline executives need to grow a pair or again have more faith in the plane and pilot.

I would love to go up in a real plane with one of these guys.

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
This hardly qualifies as stunting. It's a basic maneuver. He was flying straight and level with a gradual descent and climb out.

When they do this, you slap them on the wrist, maybe give them a little fine, to make sure they don't get too out of hand. And life goes on.

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
Instead they are showing they have fear in their pilot and planes ability/quality.

Based on the article it sounds like they are reacting to public opinion, or fear of public opinion. Not the event itself

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: Good show.
By Ringold on 2/25/2008 7:42:55 PM , Rating: 3
He violated airspeed rules, those exist for traffic separation, noise abatement, and to a lesser degree, ground obstacle avoidance. It's entirely possible he exceeded no performance limits and remained within the expected descent and departure routes. Unless he pitched up extremely hard at the end, and it doesnt look like he did, I seriously doubt he even came close to the performance envelope.

Not that it was safe, definitely not smart, but it wasn't a flying nuclear bomb.

If you had any idea how many planes are in the air every day above the United States with pilots aboard with less then 500 hours, even less then 100 hours experience you'd probably wet your pants based on all this fear mongering.

RE: Good show.
By 306maxi on 2/27/2008 5:10:35 PM , Rating: 1
You clearly don't have an idea what he's doing...... have you ever flown an aircraft? Probably not! Why don't you leave the discussion to people who understand the issues at work here. IMHO he wasn't behaving that irresponsibly but that's just me.

RE: Good show.
By Veedee on 2/28/2008 8:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you leave the discussion to people who understand the issues at work here

Ok why don't you. Here's something for you that you probaby didn't consider. For this numbnuts to do the flyby, gear up at 300 knots, no flap with all the GPWS warning systems he has on board as well as his ECAM and EFIS restrictions, he had to turn off critical warning systems and fly the plane by hand. Now I don't know if you have any idea what those acronyms stand for and frankly I don't give a rat's %@#. This idiot not only violated a large number of FARs but put himself, his passengers and even those cheering fools on the ground at great risk. Another point, since he most probably turned off his GPWS system, he had no idea how far his tail was off the ground. Figure it out dude. How far is he from the tail, what is the angle of attack of the aircraft as well as the deck angle and how long is the jet. He had no clue and was just a lucky SOB. As for leaving the discussion to those that know what they are talking about, I think you better make like a tree and GTFO.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/29/2008 11:39:58 AM , Rating: 2
You clearly don't have an idea what he's doing

I have flown and do fly - smaller aircraft to be sure, but still.
I'm an aeronautical engineer. I constantly read about mishaps, incidents and accidents caused by pilot bravado or ignorance.
What's your claim to knowledge???

IMHO he wasn't behaving that irresponsibly but that's just me.

He either was or was not behaving irresponsibly. If he was behavining irresponsibly he was behaving unprofessionally. When you stop beeing a professional when piloting a potential weapon of mass murder - you deserve whatever you get (within the law)

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:24:12 PM , Rating: 1
He clearly knows what he's doing, they survived. And it really was not particularly dangerous.

Your attitude toward this is rather interesting. Do you also advocate a 35 MPH speed limit, no fireplaces in houses, no swing sets or other moving playground equipment???? etc.?

By an0dize on 2/25/2008 11:35:18 AM , Rating: 5

Seriously... I don't see anything wrong with what he did. He obviously knew what he was doing and it was obviously a special case. I could see if he did a reverse Immelmann turn to save time getting in position for landing at 300 ft with a full load of passengers it might be a problem, but this is complete paranoid overreaction.

RE: Overreaction
By Master Kenobi on 2/25/2008 11:42:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, well this is the world we live in today. People simply can't handle it.

RE: Overreaction
By arazok on 2/25/2008 12:42:14 PM , Rating: 5
My therapist tells me it's perfectly normal to be disturbed by this video.

RE: Overreaction
By glenn8 on 2/25/2008 11:52:45 AM , Rating: 5
I don't understand why people act like just because "he knew what he was doing" condones an unnecessary risk that achieves nothing. I'm fairly certain a lot of work place accidents happen because the person thought "he knew what he was doing".

RE: Overreaction
By pauluskc on 2/25/2008 12:12:55 PM , Rating: 5
my friend "knew what he was doing" but still ended up getting her pregnant.

RE: Overreaction
By wallijonn on 2/27/2008 1:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand why people act like just because "he knew what he was doing" condones an unnecessary risk that achieves nothing.

People act exactly like that when they are behind their own vehicles. Accidents continue to happen, though, don't they? People see car accidents every day and don't change their own driving habits, no? "Unnecessary risks" are seen every single second on highways and roads.

RE: Overreaction
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 5:45:27 PM , Rating: 1
does no-one remember what happens when an large commercial airliner crashes in an civilian area??

9/11 anyone?

RE: Overreaction
By sweetsauce on 2/26/2008 10:14:13 AM , Rating: 2
I do. Its followed by beams cut for demolition and lots of "ground" explosions. Can't forget collateral damage also. Might have buildings nearby suddenly crumble to the ground unexpectedly. I hope said nearby building doesn't hold any incriminating information or we'll lose out on all that valuable evidence.

RE: Overreaction
By ajfink on 2/25/2008 9:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
No joke. A professional pilot at that level knows exactly what his aircraft is capable of.

This doesn't even qualify as a stunt. These planes are large, but if you read up on stories about pilots being forced to maneuver in them you'll find they're actually quite capable.

Granted, he did violate some rules. I'm not even entirely against his being fired, just don't go listing off all the evils and dangers he placed people in.

By jadeskye on 2/25/2008 10:51:56 AM , Rating: 2
Well if nothing else he's a hell of a pilot. maybe he should see about flying a fighter plane...

RE: Ace
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 5:51:41 PM , Rating: 1
Well, if nothing else, he's one hell of an idiot - there is never an excuse for endangering people needlesly

RE: Ace
By 91TTZ on 2/25/2008 7:14:55 PM , Rating: 3
You've posted numerous time in this thread and it has proven nothing else except that you're a pansy, and idiotic pansy at that.

You sound like a gutless, spineless twit.

RE: Ace
By ikkeman on 2/26/2008 12:41:15 PM , Rating: 1
or maybe I live and work in the area and know what happens when a pilot thinks he's good enoug to do this... There's numerous examples of airplanes overrunning the runway because they thought they'd make it, whatever the manual, fmc, ground controller or even the co-pilot thinks.

Get it into your head that this was not a "cool" stunt. Dooing this at an airshow is fine, doing this for fun is not!

And offcourse you're right - I'm a gutless, spineless twit... but at least I am using my brain to think instead of my reproductive organs!

RE: Ace
By 91TTZ on 2/26/2008 1:14:08 PM , Rating: 1
Yup, definitely a pansy. I'd rather have someone like that fly a plane that I'm on instead of someone like you. If something happened, I'll bet that he'd have the courage, training, and experience necessary to get himself out of it, whereas you'd probably just whimper and urinate on yourself.

RE: Ace
By ikkeman on 2/26/2008 1:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
offcourse, the chance of something happening would be much smaller when I'd fly the airplane and just did my job.

RE: Ace
By Motley on 2/26/2008 4:12:00 PM , Rating: 3
I'd still rather have the other guy as my pilot ANY DAY.

RE: Ace
By Richlet on 2/27/2008 12:26:49 PM , Rating: 3
"Yup, definitely a pansy"

Why you're making it personal just shows you can't win a logical argument. You're a funny little person, I like you.

Big Deal
By Trisagion on 2/25/2008 10:59:11 AM , Rating: 5
...But can he do that *cough*, inverted?

RE: Big Deal
By EndPCNoise on 2/25/2008 12:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
It wasn't caught on video, but it's rumored he completed the stunt with a victory roll.

RE: Big Deal
By borowki on 2/25/2008 7:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
I heard that the 777, with a gun in each engine, shot a bunch of bad guys while in mid air. Then it caught a baby falling from the control tower.

RE: Big Deal
By FoxFour on 2/27/2008 9:54:44 PM , Rating: 2

</Michael Bay>

RE: Big Deal
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
$500k a year???
By ninjit on 2/25/2008 11:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
WoW, I didn't realize pilots made that much.

In fact didn't the pilots union agree to a pay cut sometime last year to help out struggling domestic airlines?

Just goes to show how bad things are in the domestic airline industry. Everywhere else in the world the cost of air-travel is still dropping, it seems only in the US is the price of tickets going up.
And now it seems pilots can earn way more abroad too.

RE: $500k a year???
By EndPCNoise on 2/25/2008 12:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
As a pilot myself, I agree that many pilots' wages are way over the top and should not be so high.

RE: $500k a year???
By Ringold on 2/26/2008 10:38:39 AM , Rating: 2
I know a lot of domestic commercial pilots, and they've taken some big-time pay cuts since 9/11. One poor guy, who everybody simply called 'Captain', got pushed down to first officer for a long time. Others were laid off and havent had anything close to that sort of income since.

Thus, that $500/k really surprised me. Might be compensation for living as an ex-pat I suppose.

Don't sell yourself short, though! Flying one of those requires an amazing amount of knowledge about their systems, and don't forget the massive costs you ran up in flight school, or all those endless hours as a CFI with student pilots intent trying to kill you. Not only that, if the panel in front of you is having a bad day, you go from a computer operator to the only thing between a load of human cargo and death. $100-300k is just rewards for the training, college degree, responsibility and time away from home.

RE: $500k a year???
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 5:50:36 PM , Rating: 1
he probably isn't an amarican citizen - singapore airlines???

RE: $500k a year???
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 6:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
sry, cathay - same area though

lives in Hong Kong

Ex Australian Airforce Pilot (probably)
By cheetah2k on 2/25/2008 8:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
After living in HK for 7 years now, I know quite a few pilots who fly for both Qantas and Cathay (altho I don't know this guy)

The majority of these pilots are ex-airforce, and one in particular I know, used to fly the F-111's for the Australian Airforce.

These guys are trained professionals, and after 15 years behind the stick of these slow birds, I can imagine that he wanted to let loose like that.

After all, flying 28ft off the ground, at Mk 1 is just a walk in the park for these guys.

However, if he broke the rules, then thats grounds for termination. HK people dont have any sense of humor either...

RE: Ex Australian Airforce Pilot (probably)
By grebe925 on 2/25/2008 9:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
Here's another set of "trained professionals" who did something similar with a large plane and paid for it:

By Brandon Hill on 2/25/2008 9:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Tragic :(

Not enough lift I guess with such a steeply banked turn.

By 306maxi on 2/27/2008 5:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
Man that's scary. What an idiot though. I only did about 15 hours of flying in a 152 and I know you just can't do that. Fighters can do it when they're on their sides because the fueselage gives a bit of lift when it's on it's side but a B-52 is a brick (in aerodynamic terms) when you compare it to an Tomcat or something similar.

Oh nooooo!
By Hexus on 2/25/2008 12:42:26 PM , Rating: 5
It was rumored that Jack Thomson was on board, he's now suing Namco/Bandai, claiming that their Ace Combat series caused him to do it. ^_^

Come on...
By SpaceRanger on 2/25/2008 11:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
To quote one of the all-time classic movies:

"They bought their tickets... They knew what they were getting into... I say... Let'em crash!!"

RE: Come on...
By JLL55 on 2/25/2008 12:21:03 PM , Rating: 2
G-d I love that movie! Yeah! Don't make them like that anymore!

By quiksilv3r on 2/25/2008 1:58:48 PM , Rating: 4
Do a barrel roll!

He's no Bud Holland
By MrBlastman on 2/25/2008 10:56:53 AM , Rating: 2
They asked for a fly-by. It was a maiden flight. Cmon' people, has this world really become this de-sensitised to everything?

They were all cheering.

Then again, not sure what sort of fines they faced by the authorities given it wasn't their runway. Ah well.

If it were a public airport that was open for business then well, that's another story all together.

By alexhop on 2/25/2008 11:25:21 AM , Rating: 2
That sucks that he got fired. It was really not a dangerous maneuver- very similar to a "go-around" that pilots pratice 1000s of times, except much easier (you keep your airspeed up, plus fewer configuration changes). It was at Paine airport (where I learned to fly) which is a fine place for something like that, and I'm sure they had permission from the control tower.

safety first!
By Mrduder11 on 2/25/2008 11:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with some of the rest of you,I'd feel safer with this pilot knowing what he's capable of. Compare that to some of the other jokers that can't provide a smooth landing or take off using "the normal operating procedure."

company policy
By joedemacio on 2/26/2008 4:02:18 AM , Rating: 2
I think the majority of people who have posted in this thread are missing the point a little bit.
Captain Wilkinson has not been fired because he endangered lives or did something dangerous, he has been fired for not following company policy and protocol. It is perfectly reasonable for the airline to perform a low level flyby which they have done previously at airshows etc, but the necessary approval must be in place before hand. try and think of it in terms of your own employment, then remember this is the aviation industry here, it simply cannot happen to ignore such policies and CP are correct to fire him IMHO.

By DeepBlue1975 on 2/26/2008 1:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
"Nobody can fly higher than his moral stature"

28ft - yeah right!
By KingConker on 2/27/2008 12:38:03 PM , Rating: 2

By phxfreddy on 2/27/2008 11:23:47 PM , Rating: 2
than say landing?

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