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Special Boeing Update

March 28, 2002, by Bill Cawthon

Last summer, I wrote about the restoration of the Pan American Clipper Flying Cloud, the last surviving Boeing 307 Stratocruiser (An Aviation Legend Lives Again, July 15, 2001). After discovering the plane in a museum in Pima, Arizona, group of current and retired Boeing employees spent six years completely returning the plane to its original condition. The Stratocruiser was owned by the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum and was to be one of the primary

Boeing 307 Stratocruiser Flyng Cloud.

Illustration from an image supplied by The Boeing Company

displays at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in at the Dulles International Airport Washington, D.C.

Sadly, at about 1:15 P.M. today, less than a year after it was rolled out of the hangar at Boeing Plant 2, the Flying Cloud crash-landed in Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington. Fortunately, the Coast Guard was able to rescue all four people on board and said they appeared to be in good condition.

Witnesses said they heard the plane's engines sputtering and saw the plane losing altitude.

Boats were able to attach lines to the plane and tow it near the shore, but were unable to prevent it from sinking. Fortunately, the water was sufficiently shallow that the plane did not completely submerge.

There has been no word yet on a possible recovery of the Flying Cloud.

Editors note, March 30, 2002: The Boeing 307 Stratocruiser that crash-landed in Puget Sound was recovered on Friday. It was loaded on a barge and taken to a terminal. After being washed, it will transported to a hangar at Boeing Field.

Boeing said they do not know how much damage was caused by the crash-landing and immersion in salt water, but a Boeing spokesman said they hoped the plane could be salvaged and restored to flying condition.

That would be nice. It was sad to hear of the accident after all the hours the people at Boeing had put into restoring the plane.

Engine failure is being cited as the cause of the crash.

Now for some good news: The Sonic Cruiser project (The Return of the Cool Airplane, April 1, 2001) is moving ahead. Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company is assembling a team of development partners.

Design evaluation model of the Sonic Cruiser in wind tunnel.

Photo courtesy of the Boeing Company.

The current development partners are Japan Aircraft Industries (JAI), Japan Aircraft Development Corp., Italian aircraft company Alenia Aeronautica and Vought Aircraft Industries. All of these companies have a long history of working with Boeing on commercial aircraft products.

On September 17, 2001, Boeing announced the Sonic Cruiser design had completed the first phase wind tunnel testing. Walt Gillette, Boeing vice president and Sonic Cruiser program manager, reported the results met the expectations of the engineers and designers working on the project. Of course, this was only the first round of testing and there is still a lot of work to be done before a final design is adopted.

Initial results of the high-speed wind tunnel test are within the range typical for first tests of a new transport airplane design,"

One of the new Sonic Cruiser images displayed at the Asian Aerospace show.

Image courtesy of the Boeing Company.

said Walt Gillette, vice president and program manager of the Sonic Cruiser program. "The test results match the expectations we had based on our modeling approach for this new airplane. We continue to see this concept as a promising new airplane design that is consistent with our view of the future direction for passenger travel," Gillette said.

In February, Boeing unveiled new images of the Sonic Cruiser at Asian Aerospace in Singapore, Malaysia. Boeing says the Sonic Cruiser has received enthusiastic support from potential customers and suppliers around the world.

The Sonic Cruiser is expected to enter regular service in 2008. Plenty of time for Herpa to produce a nice Wings model.

- Bill Cawthon

Bill Cawthon is an award-winning modeller and collector. His primary modeling interests are model railroading and vehicle models in 1:87 and 1:160 scales. He has written numerous articles for regional and division NMRA publications and is a contributor to the newsletter of the 1-87 Vehicle Club. He follows both the automobile industry and the European scale vehicle industry.

In real life, Bill is a full-time marketing and public relations consultant for the high-tech industry. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and four children.

Bill writes bi-weekly for Promotex Online. To learn more about him, click here.


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published by Cadabra Corp. This page was lasted updated: October 12, 2005