This is part of my 18,000 Miles For Good series. I hope you’ll stay tuned for the rest of the posts:
- Getting Started On An 18,000 Mile 5-Day Journey
- Turkish Airlines Lounge At Washington Dulles
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines From IAD to CPH (Washington Dulles to Copenhagen)
- Touring UNICEF In Copenhagen: Getting Ready For Delivery
- Riding The Metro In Copenhagen: An Easy Way To Get To and From The Airport
- A Day In Copenhagen
- Norwegian Premium From CPH to JIB (Copenhagen to Djibouti)
- Getting The Right Medicine For A Trip To Africa
- The Cockpit Experience! Taking Off From Athens to Djibouti
- 3 Hours In Djibouti
- Qatar Airways JIB-DOH-DFW
I’ve been a big fan of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for a long time. Even before I had the opportunity to take the inaugural US Dreamliner service on Japan Airlines from Boston to Tokyo, I went out of my way to find routes I could fly the 787. I was lucky enough to be part of the first private charter on a 787 in the US.
The opportunity to roam around underneath a 787 on our charter flight was a real treat. Bound for Djibouti with a plane full of humanitarian aid for Yemeni refugees would have been “once-in-a-lifetime” enough for one trip. Part of the UNICEF fundraising had been auctioning off the ability to sit in the cockpit for take-off or landing. Outside of the US, the rules are different when it comes to civilians in the cockpit. For European flights, it’s generally at the captain’s discretion. Since we had an unexpected landing in Athens, there was an extra take-off and landing in play now. I was happy to make an on-the-spot UNICEF donation for the privilege of riding in the cockpit on our take-off from Athens.
There are two jump seats in the cockpit of our 787, so I was accompanied by my new friend Jon who was also one of the auction winners. We were both strapped in and ready for take-off, asking a million questions.
Peter and Thomas were our pilots and they were happy to answer all those questions. I learned that they both got their start flying Fokkers (50 and 70), the 737, 777 and finally the 787. One pilot spent time at Austrian and Turkish Airlines before finally ending up with Norwegian. The other one worked his way up with Norwegian to ultimately end up on their 787s.
They shared the flight plan with us from their iPad. We would be making our way from Athens and would have great views of Santorini, Kos and Crete. As we approached Djibouti, we’d fly over Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea.
I’ve got a long-ish video below of our take-off, followed by another one showing us ascending through 20,000 feet. Then, a bunch of pictures taken out of the windows of the cockpit.
For me, this was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s an awesome cockpit. As you can hopefully see from my shaky video, the view out the front of the plane is pretty incredible compared to looking out the windows at our seats.
I hope you enjoy the videos and pictures even half as much as I enjoyed taking them!
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