When an airline gets a new type of plane for the first time, its pilots need to learn to fly it. And no matter how many hours go into work on a simulator, there's no substitute for the real experience.
Case in point: American Airlines got its first 787 about a month ago, and spectators in western Texas, especially around the Midland area, have been treated to daily fly-bys and a routine of touch-and-go landings in which the pilot puts the wheels on the runway, and then pulls up and away to do it again later. Other maneuvers are also practiced.
West Texas is popular for this—not too much population on the ground or in the sky, and several sizable fields to practice on. And it's the direction for most international flights from DFW, where American is basing its first 787s.
HINT: If you look carefully, you might be able to find tickets between Chicago O'Hare and DFW for about a month, starting in early May. That will end in early June, when the 787s switch over to international service; first destinations for AA are non-stop to Beijing and Buenos Aires from DFW.
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