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
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
"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.