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Boeing's 747-8 Intercontinental flies skyward (photos)

The next generation of the aviation giant's iconic double-decker makes its first flight before thousands.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Take-off

EVERETT, Wash.--Sunday marked the first flight of Boeing's all-new 747-8 Intercontinental. Billed as the aviation giant's biggest-ever passenger plane, as well as its most fuel- and cost-efficient, the plane will be the only one in the 400- to 500-passenger market.

Boeing unveiled the plane at a giant ceremony at its plant here last month, and on Sunday, the plane took off for its first flight.

It is expected to land at Seattle's Boeing Field after at least a couple of hours aloft.

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Burning protectant

As the plane gets ready to taxi onto the runway, it revved its engines, which created smoke from the burning off of protectant lubricant.
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Moving after burnoff

The plane begins to move after sitting on the tarmac and revving its engines for a few minutes.
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The plane

A look at the all-new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.
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Front of plane

The front of the 747-8 Intercontinental, as seen from the left side.
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Tail with cone

Hanging from the tail of the plane is a trailing cone, which, when it is in the air, can go out to between 150 and 200 feet behind the plane. The cone is meant to measure the difference between total pressure and static pressure in order to figure out altitude and total airspeed.
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From the left side

Another view of the plane, from the left side.
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Engines

Two of the 747-8 Intercontinental's four GEnx 2B engines, which are said to be 16 percent more fuel efficient, per seat, than those on the current-gen 747-400.
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In the sun

The plane catches the morning sun.
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Turning onto runway

The 747-8 Intercontinental turns onto the runway.
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Heading away

As it heads toward its take-off position, the plane heads away and is seen from behind.
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From behind

The plane, as seen from behind.
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T-33s overhead

Two T-33 chase planes fly overhead.
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Turning into position

The 747-8 Intercontinental turns into position for its first-ever takeoff.
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Ready to go

The plane is ready for take-off.
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Rolling

Engines fully revved, the plane begins to roll.
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Nose up

The 747-8 Intercontinental's nose edges into the air, just prior to taking off.
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Flying with chase planes

The plane is seen with one of its two T-33 chase planes, seconds after liftoff.
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Into the air

The plane heads into the morning sky. It is expected to land about 30 minutes south, at Seattle's Boeing Field, in a couple of hours.
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Banking left

Now quite far from Paine Field, the plane banks to the left.
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Big crowd

A large crowd of Boeing employees waits on the field for the plane's first flight.

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