If you are of a certain age like me, then you will remember the cliques at school in the same way as I do. The cliques basically split into two distinct groups, the geeks and the cool kids. The cool kids were busy worrying about who was the most popular and laughing at the geeks, who were too busy playing with computers to notice. Fast forward a generation (or two) and the boot is on the other foot. The cool kids are now the ones creating and developing the next generation of technology to inspire, excite and engage.
I had first-hand experience of the excitement associated with technology innovation a couple of weeks ago when I was lucky enough to experience my first ever test flight. The testing of our new JetWave satellite communications hardware took place at Birmingham Airport in the UK. Here I boarded the Honeywell 757 test-plane with anticipation. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the first thing that struck me was just how dedicated and talented our test pilots and ground-crew are. The pilots co-ordinate seamlessly with the test-crew to understand the maneuvers required to get the test data needed to validate the product being tested. This requires significant amounts of planning, liaising and skill to enable the aircraft to be put through its paces in just the right way. The ground-crew are instrumental in maintaining the aircraft and ensuring it is ready to fly, whenever and wherever needed, sometimes at short notice. They take great pride in their aircraft and I was really impressed by how clean and pristine the 757 was, inside and out.
The test-crew are amazing – they were talking in a foreign language to a non-technical person like me, but it was truly inspirational to see and hear them testing a product that will revolutionize air travel in the future – imagine a time when you can stream live TV or take a video call from the sky…It will be thanks to the people on that test aircraft, supported by teams of people on the ground who are working so hard to make this a not too distant reality.
My experience on the test flight was something I will never forget. It opened my eyes to the hard work and dedication of engineers as they seek to bring new technology into our lives and the skill of the flight crew that fly complex missions to generate the test conditions required for accurate and reliable test data. I also learnt that a 757 is capable of rollercoaster maneuvers, banking angles can actually be quite steep and that Taylor Swift is surprisingly popular among engineers as a good test of download speeds!
In my mind there is no question as to who the cool kids are after this experience.
JetWave hardware being installed on-board our Boeing 757 test plane