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Chasing LAN's Boeing 787 Dreamliner with the Aerial Photographers of Wolfe Air

September 5, 2012 at 3:40 PM | by | ()

New airplane alert! On Saturday, September 1, LAN Airlines picked up its very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, becoming the first in the Americas to operate the aircraft. From the factory to the runway at Boeing's Paine Field in Everett, WA, we were there to kick the tires, put the seats back and get a feel for her. Stay tuned the next couple days for more Dreamliner dispatches.

Have you ever been on a flight and spotted another flight off in the distance? It's just the coolest thing to see another plane in midair; they become your friend for a few minutes, as if you're sharing the delicious secret that 38,000 feet is the place to be. And it is. Now imagine that flying alongside other airplanes was an everyday occurrence for you—even better, that it's your job. This is actually the case for the badass pilots and aerial cinematographers at Wolfe Air.

Thanks to our buddy David Parker Brown of AirlineReporter.com and the team at Wolfe Air, we were able to go beyond watching the LAN Boeing 787 Dreamliner delivery flight to participating in it while discovering how Wolfe Air makes their magic—the magic of capturing the Dreamliner on film, in flight, from a few hundred feet off the raked wingtip.

Though Wolfe Air has an arsenal of three aircraft, it's their Learjet 25B that'd be our whip on this trip. From a distance, the slick plane looks jet-black; up close it's actually a smart charcoal gray to eliminate glare and reflections on other aircraft. Typically based at Hawthorne Airport outside Los Angeles, the Lear has specially flown up to Everett, WA's Paine Field this day, in order to fly out ahead of the Dreamliner, circle back around and join up with the plane as the 787 heads out over the Olympic Peninsula.

Erase any preconceptions of private jet interiors from your mind. Wolfe Air's Learjet is all business on the inside, and its ability to shoot IMAX, hi-def, Vectorvision, and digital stills means that camera equipment has booted the leather seats and champagne bar. And thank god for that, because the serious G-forces we felt on some turns to position for shots aren't for your average bizjet.

Aside from the two pilots up front, two camera operators squeeze in the rear, remotely controlling the lens ports in both the top and bottom of the Lear's fuselage. It's this way, over the 1.5-hour flight over Washington's scenic terrain, that LAN will end up with the polished midair photos to put in commercials, in magazines, online and anywhere else they want to show off their new Dreamliner.

Curious to check out more of Wolfe Air's work? Just hit up Netflix, as Wolfe are the people behind the in-air filming that makes movies like Air Force One, Transformers and Thirteen Days so awesome. Not to mention that Wolfe has actually had a hand in NASA's preparations for the Mars Curiosity Rover (more on that here).

The flight path of the Dreamliner as our Learjet chase plane got the shots

Disclosure: We were at the delivery of the LAN 787 Dreamliner as guests of Boeing and LAN Airlines and a guest of Wolfe air onboard the photo flight, but all photos, video and opinions are strictly our own.

[Video: Joe Corrigan/Omega Pictures. Photos: Joe Corrigan, Cynthia Drescher and David Parker Brown/Airline Reporter]

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