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Matt Cawby’s Paine Field blog


Matt Cawby was born 200 years too late; he should have been with Lewis & Clark.

I’ve not met anyone who can find his way through wilderness better than Matt and Keesha, his Siberian Husky.

I first met Matt because of a common interest in the old Great Northern Railway, and the storied, lost, ghost town of Alpine, Washington.

I nearly died (truly) of exhaustion last July keeping up with Matt and Keesha on a search for remnants of a diversion dam on Carroll Creek, up the northern slope of Mt Sawyer, above Alpine.

Matt found it and I survived to see where the dam had been and hundreds of feet of century-old pipe laying in the forest.

But if Matt was born out of his appropriate time and place, he has adapted well to the 21st century. Matt’s Paine Field Blog is an aviation enthusiast’s source for information on how the Boeing 787 program is going.

Most days, Matt is at Paine Field taking photos and videos of flight and field activity.

Thousands of followers tune in to his blog. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other publications and media outlets use Matt’s Paine Field Blog as a source.

Undoubtedly, Boeing would prefer that Matt wasn’t so diligent in his work.

He is known to Boeing security as the “guy in the red truck.” Three years ago I introduced him to two of my acquaintances in the Boeing security detail.

They already knew who he was; they just didn’t know him. I won’t claim that a lasting friendship budded from that meeting.

Maybe more of a Wile E. Coyote – Roadrunner relationship.

Often Matt is the only person tracking flights at Paine Field. When a 787 designated for Air India lost its flaps on a first flight in July, Matt was the only member of the media to record the event.

When the Civil Aviation Administration of China was at Paine Field in January, Matt was there.

CAAC has not yet approved the 787 for use by Chinese airlines. Matt noted that CAAC completed one of two approval flights on a China Southern 787.

The 2nd flight was never flown and the representatives of CAAC flew home without approving the 787 for use in China.

I mentioned that Matt has thousands of followers. They are all over the world and sometimes send him messages.

Because of this Matt had been suspicious that all was really not as well with the 787 entry into service in Japan as Boeing had proclaimed.

In late October or early November, he said to me that United Air Lines 787 entry into service would tell us a lot about the 787 because in the US it would be impossible to cover up problems.

He was certainly correct. Within weeks there were multiple United flights delayed or aborted because of electrical issues.

Photos of failed dimming units on the airplane windows appeared on aviation blogs.

Summer Hull, blogger for the Travel Channel, noted via the Denver Post that, the four times she flew on a 787, each flight had electrical problems.

“The in-flight entertainment would short out, have to be reset, and it would not work for the rest of the flight,” she said.

In January came the battery fires.

Matt’s network hadn’t failed him. Many of the expected problems did appear when the 787s began to fly in the US.

So much for the reports we had been given of “exceptional” performance by the 787. Now the world knows and will be watching closely when 787s return to service.

Boeing would do well during this grounding to fix every problem on every 787 of which they are aware, rather than claiming all is well.

If Boeing fixes the problems, all may yet be well; if not, you can imagine that scenario for yourself.


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