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This week, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig is reporting live from the Paris Air Show. Here are his five favorite aircraft from his trip to Le Bourget.
Wow. Wow wow wow! I’m still in awe at the aircraft I’ve seen this week at the Paris Air Show. After touring a brand-new Airbus A350 and making my way through a decrepit Air France 747, I’m in awe at how far the aviation industry has come in just a few decades. Of course, airliners represent just a small percentage of the aircraft on display at the show — war machines, from troop carriers and choppers to missiles and drones, lead the way at Le Bourget — but what sets the Paris Air Show apart from many others is the commercial jets that take to the skies, flying alongside fighters and dazzling gliders in front of thousands of industry executives and fans.
So, without further ado, my five favorite planes of the 2015 Paris Air Show:
1. Airbus A350
Now before you get all worked up about Airbus taking the #1 slot, I must clarify that I missed the Dreamliner in-flight demo days, and Boeing wasn’t letting anyone come aboard the (likely empty) Vietnam Dreamliner that departed during the morning of my first day at the show. Airbus, however, is flying through the weekend, and the Qatar A350 I visited was absolutely the most impressive non-A380 airliner I’ve ever seen.
Yeah — look at that interior. Very well done, Airbus and Qatar.
2. Boeing Dreamliner
Boeing’s extended-length 787-9 Dreamliner flew for fans earlier in the week, but made its way back to the Seattle area (it hasn’t yet been delivered to Vietnam Airlines) on Friday morning. I didn’t get to come aboard, but I did fly United’s 787-9 from Melbourne to LAX, and I had a great experience there. Of course, the interior is a far cry from Qatar’s A350, but it’s la crème de la crème as far as United planes go.
3. Airbus A380
Now an old Paris Air Show favorite, the Airbus A380 returned in 2015, performing for fans every afternoon. While not quite as agile as the smaller A350, there were plenty of steep climbs, descents and high-bank turns. And with new orders dying down, it couldn’t hurt Airbus to help drum up some business with a fancy show in front of airline executives — and perhaps some deep-pocketed private customers — as well.
4. Dassault Rafale
A fighter jet? Sure, why not. France’s flagship fighter, the Dassault Rafale, screamed past fans each afternoon. By far the noisiest flying display, it was also one of the most exciting. But we’re talking about a fighter here — if it’s going to follow a highly maneuverable Airbus A380 whale jet, it better be super impressive. We did get to see slow flight, afterburner and dozens of high-speed rolls. The Rafale definitely made Le Bourget feel more like a traditional air show, but those can be fun, too.
5. Eurocopter X3
Yes, we’re calling this an airplane — check out those props! This experimental aircraft first debuted in 2010, but it hasn’t taken off commercially yet (although it’s logged many hours in the sky). Above is the one and only Eurocopter X3 in existence. Its propellers let it fly farther and faster than traditional helicopters, with a current record of 293 miles per hour. I didn’t see it fly at the Paris Air Show, but it still looked plenty impressive resting beneath this tent.
With airliners, military choppers and hundreds of missiles and other war machines, the Paris Air Show is unlike any other. It only happens once every two years, but if you can make it 2017, it’s definitely not to be missed. And there are worse places to be than Paris in June.
More from the Paris Air Show:
- Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Face Off at the Paris Air Show
- Where Flight Attendants Disappear to During a Long Flight
- A Look at Business and Coach in Qatar’s Gorgeous Airbus A350
- This Retired 747 is the World’s Most Run-Down Aviation Museum
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