Wednesday, April 27, 2005

the beast of blagnac
It's a bit jammy that I'm having some training at the aircraft factory this week, and so I had all the passes I needed to secure my entry onto the runway for the first flight of the A380. This beast took off from Blagnac airport in Toulouse at 1030h this morning and I was there, one head in a crowd of tens of thousands.

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The plans to build the A380 were the first things I learnt about Airbus, and it that that persuaded me to leave England and take my University Industrial Year with them in Toulouse, back in 1996. Watching the whole project coming together has been quite exciting over the last couple of years, whether it was pieces of the aircraft itself, the gargantuan factories it is built in, or the boats and planes and roads that were needed to transport the massive sections of its 550 passenger holding, 600 ton bulk.

I was watching from less than 100 metres away as the beast ran past me on the runway, with me frantically jumping up and down and cheering and shouting "aller! aller!" as loud as I could. It was only a second or two later when the A380 started to rotate into the climb. Seeing the thing lift itself into the air was truthfully a very emotional moment, containing a large share of amazement and a fair dollop of pride. A huge cheer went up from the crowd, with arms flung into the air and smiles a mile wide spread across our faces.

Without a doubt, it is on days like this that being European, experiencing the fruits of European cooperation, is just bloody fantastic. I shall certainly not be voting British National Party in the UK General Election next month.

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