First flight visual validation for Boeing workers

By Eric

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Boeing North Charleston's first 787 Dreamliner lifted off over South Carolina skies Wednesday. It was the first Lowcountry made plane to depart from the local Boeing headquarters.

The first test flight lasted about five hours, with pilots flying primarily across the Southeast and along the coast. But, it was the site of the initial lift-off that provided a giant stamp of approval for the people who made it all possible.

"It's a dream, a fantasy," said a Boeing employee. "It's like wow, it really does fly."

"It's just exciting to see it all come to fruition and actually fly," another worker said.

The plane, which has been purchased by Air India, took off just before noon.

Boeing workers huddled inside the company's assembly plant. Others like Debra Washington wanted a front row flyover, to see firsthand, the plane she helped build.

"It flies," Washington said, staring skyward. "Look at the wings, look at the wings!"

Washington worked assembling the Dreamliner's fuselage. Seeing it up close and then sky-high gave her visual validation.

"The finished product, yesterday we took a tour of the plane, I was in awe," Washington said. "We learn more about it every day, but after seeing the finished product, that was the amazing part of it. See our plane? That's our plane. We put that together! We did it!"

Other employees, like Bill Coats, shared those same feelings of accomplishment.

"There's nothing like it, knowing that you were part of that whole engine package that took that plane in the air," he said.

For Coats, the airliner proves the doubters wrong.

"It's our first one. Everybody said we couldn't do it, and we're all out here watching that plane fly overhead," Coats said.

Meantime, employees remain busy building Dreamliner number two. The plant in North Charleston is expected to produce about four of the finished airliners by the end of this year.

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