Cathay Pacific

Teens impressed by Seattle's high-fliers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 12:00am

An American tradition turned out to be extremely enjoyable for a group of Hong Kong students who won a trip to Seattle's famous Seafair.

The 35-member delegation, who were part of Cathay Pacific's I Can Fly programme, witnessed a flight display by the US navy's world-famous Blue Angels squadron as well as hydroplane racing on Lake Washington.

Seattle's Seafair has been held annually for 50 years and has become a major event which attracts worldwide attention.

Seattle's link to the aircraft industry dates back to the 1910s, when a man named William Boeing turned a shipyard in the city into an aeroplane factory which is still going strong.

The Hong Kong group visited the Boeing Everett plant, where they were able to walk down the aisles and watch huge aircraft being built.

They were also shown how the company collected flight-test data to improve the design of its aeroplanes. They even stepped inside the cockpit of an almost finished Boeing 737.

The group consisted of outstanding young people selected from more than 1,000 hopefuls who took part in Cathay's I Can Fly programme.

The year-long scheme was aimed at involving young people in community projects and offering training in aviation. As the Hong Kong students wandered around the fair, they enthusiastically collected souvenirs handed out at stalls set up by organisations such as the US army, navy, car-makers and petroleum companies.

But the highlight of the show was a flyover by the Blue Angels. Ten years ago, the Blue Angels withdrew from the show because of safety concerns. Officials were worried that an accident might occur as the high-powered jets skimmed that lined the shores of Lake Washington to witness the spectacle. In 1997 it was decided that with careful planning and new safety guidelines, the Blue Angels would return - to the delight of spectators.