Dept. of Implied Airplane Matryoshkii

During my trips to Wichita, I had occasion to observe, from quite a ways off, a very unusual airplane.

The customer there makes airplane parts, and among the parts they make are components for both the Boeing 737 — sort of the default American airliner; if you’ve flown Southwest, you’ve been on a 737 — as well as the new 787 “Dreamliner,” a tremendously large plane indeed. The 737 bodies leave the plant on a rail head that backs up into the actual building, which is super cool in and of itself. But the 787 parts are too big for rail, or for truck. So what to do?

Turns out, Boeing just made a bigger plane specifically designed to carry superbig parts back to Seattle for final assembly. The entire tail section swings open like a giant toy so that enormous components can be placed inside. How cool is that?

Now, of course, this begs the question: What do they move parts for THAT plane around in? Sadly, the answer is not “an even bigger plane!” Apparently, they’re custom jobs done in Seattle.

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