Dreamliner Gets Thumbs Up


Dreamliner pilots are donning silk scarves and hanging airport parking passes on rearview mirrors. They’ll be back to work Tuesday. Wednesday at the latest.

Major new outlets, including NBC, will lead off tonight’s Ten O’clock News with the beauty and mystery of this story.

“I’m satisfied the equipment is right,” said Captain Flaps, a Boeing 787 test pilot wearing jeans over cowboy boots out here on a Utah tarmac under a mouthwash blue sky.

This is where a capital-I Idea struck like lightening somewhere midbrain in Captain ‘Rev’ Westinghouse, a retired Delta pilot who rebuilds old Ford pickups. Call him a genius, or mutant, or avatar.

All his life he’s wanted to do something bigger than the other jokers. And now he’s amped up the game. He’s gone and fixed the horrifically defective Dreamliner batteries with hardware culled from abandoned Fords.

It sounded like a bar bet. The captain, a gentleman in every sense—kind, forceful, thoughtful—is a true tinkerer, an unusual combination.

Guys like him have the world on a string. Teddy Roosevelt once observed that life’s greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing.

Captain ‘Rev’ hit upon the solution to the Dreamliner’s woes late last night in his red barn, where dogged determination gave the full moonlight something worth shining on.

“Why is it always rocket science,” Captain Rev asks. “For more than a century we’ve been making batteries and alternators. I say if the new batteries can’t take the heat, get ‘em out of the kitchen.

“Why are they reinventing the wheel?

“Why do they think smart guys always have to have letters after their names? People whose office wall has every last plaque, diploma and award they’ve ever gotten.”

But that all changes now that Captain Rev has sold his battery fix to the Japanese maker who supplies the Dreamliner.

Airline carriers are anxious to put in play the Dreamliner’s promised fuel efficiently. Passengers want the smooth ride offered by the latest generation long-haul Boeing jet.

“You’re always searching for the truth,” Captain ‘Rev’ says to me with the flatness of a Mid-West upbringing in his voice.

“You’re a non-fiction man, Gerry. All you ever write are facts. To solve problems, you’ve got to think about what you can’t see. Never stop looking.”

It’s true. I can’t write what’s not there. How the hell is that even possible?

But let’s back up to the beginning of this story. I ask you, who among us truly knows the way of love?

For the captain, it began when he started tinkering with an old Ford alternator and all the rope he wanted to lasso his dreams. Why not let the spin of the Pratt & Whitney crank this dynamo, he thought. Engines running and batteries are charging.

When parked and cabin lights are on, batteries draining. No heat. No fire.

Not the duct-tape answer to life, but the tried and true.

And that simple logic is the genius behind the hardware that fixed the Dreamliner on April Fools’ Day, 2013.


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