Flocks of Jets, Blizzard of Tweets as Raytheon Brings Twitter Followers to Farnborough International Airshow
As an F-18 screamed overhead, Twitter users from across Europe and the United States spent a day behind-the-scenes at the Farnborough International Airshow as guests of Raytheon.
Emma Timmermans clamped her hands to her head as an F-18 rocketed down the runway, orange flame lighting up its engines.
"It's so loud!" shouted Timmermans, 12, of The Netherlands. Then she grinned as the fighter jet arced into the overcast sky.
On Friday Timmermans, her father and other users of the Twitter messaging service visited the Farnborough International Airshow as guests of Raytheon. As they watched the planes and tried out Raytheon technology, they documented their adventures with a torrent of tweets, photos and videos.
The lucky participants got the chance to attend the event in Farnborough, England by following @Raytheon and registering online in May. Participants were responsible for getting themselves to London, and they hailed from across the United States and Europe.
As the day began, the participants swapped their personal must-see lists over English bacon-and-butter breakfast sandwiches at Raytheon's chalet near the flight line.
Dean Goodwin of Los Angeles said he became a helicopter enthusiast after being life-flighted to a hospital in 2010.
“I have an extraordinary fondness for helicopters and the people who fly them because a helicopter saved my life,” Goodwin said.
Pat Bell, an engineer from Hamilton, Ohio, said he wanted to see the Airbus 380 because he had helped develop the plane’s engines.
At the Raytheon pavilion the participants donned electronic goggles for a taste of Raytheon’s VIRTSIM virtual reality chamber, then took turns swooping over Tucson, Arizona in our 4D Flight Simulator.
The participants peppered Raytheon employees with questions about the Aviation Warrior, the company’s new wearable computer. Among other things, the system allows downed pilots to take maps, radar images and other information with them.
“That’s fantastic,” said Mike Moore, a pilot who used to fly Cobra attack helicopters. “In Iraq we had people getting wounded because they were trying to get all their stuff out of the cockpit."
Later the participants saw the C-17A and C-130J cargo planes, the tilt-rotor MV-22B Osprey, and the F/A-18F and F-15E fighter jets on display in the U.S. military's aircraft "corral." They also toured space-related sights in the show’s exhibit halls and a mockup of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
The focus of the afternoon was flying. The participants watched from the second-floor terrace of Raytheon's chalet as aerobatic planes, the Osprey and the massive Airbus 380 roared over Farnborough.
"This was fabulous," Gabrielle Laine-Peters of St. Albans, Britain said as the group rode back to London on a shuttle bus. "It was fun and a great setting."
"For my first tweetup, I might be a bit spoiled now," said Jon Stokes of London.
Follow the conversation around Raytheon's first international Tweetup.