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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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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

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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