Tom's Flight Dreams

I've topped the winds-swept heights where never Lark or even Eagle flew...

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

I came to the 787 program in an unusual way, but I am glad that I came, whatever the path. My first involvement was as a consultant to one of Boeing’s suppliers, THALES. After a year with THALES, I switched over to consult to Boeing’s Flight Deck Crew operations team on their development of the engineering Cab, a fixed-based simulator that is used for systems integration, procedure development, and initial pilot training.


Over the next 5 years, I worked in a variety of positions that helped ultimately lead to the certification and delivery of the plane. Although the program may be most commonly remembered for being 3+ years late, I will always remember it for the challenges it provided as we tried to drive one of the most complex integrated airplanes ever envisioned to completion. I had the chance to work with some brilliant people, have good times and bad, work brutally long hours, all while doing what I loved: working with planes and solving problems.


Seeing the Dreamliner take off on its first flight on December 15, 2009 was a defining moment in my life. I had been a part of an enormous team that had used multiple forms of cutting-edge technology to create an amazing machine.

The official 787 Flight Deck publicity shot, taken in my Cab at Boeing Field

The Dreamliner Flight Deck publicity shot with fashion models filling in for the flight crew

Me with ZA001 as it taxies past just prior to First Flight on December 15, 2009

ZA001, with Mike Carriker and Randy Neville at the controls, taxiing for takeoff before First Flight

The Dreamliner lifts off on its first flight

The view from the mission control room during First Flight. In this room were some of the brightest engineers I have ever met. If anyone could solve a problem, it was these men and women.

View from inside ZA004 before flight – those are the various flight test stations where engineers observe data

The flight deck of ZA004 before we took it on a test flight

Me in the observer's seat on my first 787 flight

Heather Ross, captain for my flight in ZA004, and I pose afterwards

Two of my favorite types of planes in formation: the Supermarine Spitfire and Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A token of another formation flight of two of my favorite planes: me in the Long-EZ in very loose form with ZA002, flown that day by Randy Neville

The youngest 787 pilot ever – 5 year-old Alex prepares to fly the Dreamliner simulator

My family and I in the 787 Cab – they sacrificed not having me around for much of 3 years as we built it and ran tests on airplane systems. - June 25, 2009