United Airlines and AirlineGeeks Celebrate National Aviation Day with Behind-the-Scenes Tour

story by airlinegeeks' peter weiland

A National Aviation Day event attendee photographing a United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.(Photo: Andrew Salgadoe)

Aug. 19, known to most AvGeeks as National Aviation Day, celebrated its 80th anniversary this year. Continuing its yearly tradition, AirlineGeeks once again offered aviation enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at airline operations across the country, teaming up this year with United Airlines and regional airline Mesa Airlines.

On the East Coast, 20 aviation enthusiasts had the opportunity to tour United Airlines’ operation at Washington Dulles International Airport, one of the airline’s Northeast hubs.

Behind-the-Scenes with United Airlines at Dulles Airport

As one of the carrier’s two East Coast hubs and United being the only airline to call the airport its hub, Dulles Airport is undoubtedly a United Airlines stronghold. Currently seeing service to three continents with recently added routes to destinations including Tel Aviv, United has a strong commitment to the capital region’s primary international airport. Now to see how the operation stays running smoothly.

National Aviation Day for 20 lucky AirlineGeeks readers began at Gate D3 with a decorative cake to celebrate the national holiday. Centerstage on the cake was a photograph of United’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the newly rebranded livery, unveiled just a few months ago and already gracing the exteriors of numerous mainline and regional aircraft.

Celebrating National Aviation Day with United’s newest livery. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)
Airline employees check out United’s new look (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tyler Tashji)

As part of the day, AvGeeks would get to see various aspects of the United base in Washington ranging from below wing to in-flight operations. Before setting out for the tour ahead, the group was introduced to various United Airlines staff members, each representing different areas of the operation, who explained their roles that goes into running such a large operation.

Teamwork was a key theme in each of the introductions as the mammoth daily operation could not function without out. It was expressed that everyone needs to do their part to succeed and complete many tasks throughout the day in order to avoid disruption, which could ultimately spiral into delays if not mindfully avoided.

A United Airlines pilot welcoming attendees to National Aviation Day celebrations at Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo: Andrew Salgadoe)

Members of the United Airlines staff team then lined up to slice the cake and to get underway with the celebration of National Aviation Day. When the various team members were finished speaking, the group was able to ask questions and interact with the staff. The group of 20 then split into 2 groups and one group took a van from the terminal to the north side of the airport to United Airlines’ maintenance hangar while the other toured a United Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

The visit served as an opportunity to see the mechanical aspect of keeping United’s fleet operating smoothly.  Everyone had an opportunity to discuss and ask questions to many different crews that had different views of the operation from the Dulles Move Team to the pilot flying these complex machines.

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 being brought into the maintenance hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

As the group wandered the cavernous maintenance hangar, AvGeeks could speak with the maintenance team and learn more about their profession, job opportunities and what they do to keep the fleet up and running. One of United’s Boeing 737-700s with split scimitars that was currently in the hangar for maintenance served as a backdrop for the affair.

United aircraft mechanics showing AvGeeks inside a Boeing 737 engine. (Photo: Andrew Salgadoe)

After almost an hour in the hangar, the two groups swapped between the Boeing 777 tour and hangar tour. Onboard United’s second-largest aircraft, the group had the opportunity to venture around the completely empty widebody aircraft, a rare opportunity for most.

The recently-reconfigured aircraft featured United’s new Polaris business class and Premium Plus premium economy seating. In addition to the standard passenger areas, the group was also able to visit other areas normally off-limits including pilot and flight attendant rest areas.

While walking around the aircraft, and learning each and every secret about it, attendees were also able to walk up to the flight deck, sit in the pilots’ chairs and speak with a United Airlines captain about the certain controls and flight instruments. Entering and exiting the aircraft from the ramp, attendees were able to take a peek at the massive engines on the 777-200ER while standing right next to them.

A United Airlines Boeing 767-300ER at Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

Following the aircraft and hangar tours, the event had come to an end. However, the AvGeek attendees were treated to one last surprise before they left, goodies! Every attendee received a goody bag with a variety of merchandise from United Airlines and even a magazine about the recently retired Boeing 747-400 fleet.

After a great day of touring United’s operations and speaking with many different people holding many different positions at the airline, it was time to head back to the main terminal where the day had started earlier.

AirlineGeeks would like to thank United Airlines for helping spread the joy of aviation to our AvGeek readers

AirlineGeeks.com Staff

AirlineGeeks.com began in February, 2013 as a one-man (er… teenager, rather) show. Since then, we’ve grown to have 20 active team members, and yes, we’re still growing. Some of us are looking to work in the aviation industry as professionals when we grow older. Some of us are still trying to decide what we want to do. That’s okay though, because we’re all here for the same reason: we love the airlines. We’re the youngest team of airline industry journalists out there.
AirlineGeeks.com Staff