Boeing Dreamliner jet draws USA-sized self-portrait in the sky

Passenger-jet manufacturer gets creative with its flight plan during a required 18-hour endurance test.

Stephen Shankland
Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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A Boeing Dreamliner jet's flight path drew the plane's outline.
Enlarge Image
A Boeing Dreamliner jet's flight path drew the plane's outline.

A Boeing Dreamliner jet's flight path drew the plane's outline.

FlightAware; screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

There are some big works of art out there -- Christo's pink-packaged islands, the Nazca lines in Peru. Now Boeing has made its own contribution: a drawing of a plane, done by the plane itself across the entire United States.

A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew a route that inscribed its own shape across a map of the US on Thursday, Boeing said. The wings reach from the Great Lakes to the southern tip of Texas, and the nose is pointed northwest toward Boeing's "home" in Washington.

The total flight time for the PR stunt was 18 hours and 1 minute, Boeing said on Twitter.

The company took some flak (figuratively) for pumping a lot of greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere, but that would've happened even without the aerial self-portrait, Boeing said.

"This was a required endurance test for certification. Rather than fly in random patterns, our team got creative & drew a plane in the sky," Boeing tweeted.