737MAX Pilots Spell Out MAX

On a recent test flight in the northwestern United States, Boeing 737 MAX test pilots spelled out “MAX” during the nearly nine-hour flight between Seattle Boeing Field and Seattle Boeing Field.

The Boeing 737-8 MAX bearing the registration N8704Q took off from Seattle Boeing Field a little before nine in the morning on Saturday.  The flight, BOE104X, was a regularly planned test flight for the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.  The Boeing 737 MAX which is set to debut later this year is required to fly a certain amount of hours before the aircraft can enter passenger service.  These test flights also allow aircraft manufacturers to gather important data that’s used to improve performance and address issues the aircraft might face in the future.

The pilots that fly test flights like BOE104X are required to fly for hours, often circling a particular region before returning to the origin airport.  I’d imagine that test flights like these might get a little boring after awhile, however, pilots have been known to get creative during these test flights.

Pilots take advantage of waypoints and flight paths to spell out certain words or phrases and even draw pictures.  The words, phrases, and images can be viewed by the aircraft manufacturer and online, using flight tracking programs such as Flightradar24 and Flightaware.

(Image Credit: FlightRadar24)

(Image Credit: FlightRadar24)

(Image Credit: Flightaware)

(Image Credit: FlightAware)

Over the course of nine hours, Boeing test pilots traversed the skies of the northwestern United States to spell out “MAX.”  MAX is, of course, in reference to the 737 MAX aircraft that the pilots were flying. Above is an image of the aircraft a few hours into its flight.

As mentioned above, this isn’t the first time test pilots for Boeing decided to get creative during a long test flight.  In 2012, during a Boeing 787 test flight, test pilots spent nearly twenty hours spelling out “787” and even included Boeing’s logo.  That flight is shown to the left.

As for BOE104X, after nine hours, the Boeing 737-8 MAX returned to Boeing Field after completing their sketch.  Using Flighradar24, it was easy to see the word “MAX” spelled using the aircraft flight path.  The image extended from Washington to eastern Montana.

(Image Credit: FlightRadar24)

(Image Credit: FlightRadar24)


Test flights don’t have to be monotonous.  That statement was proved by the test pilots of BOE104X.  Little things like this remind me why I’m so passionate about aviation.  As for the actual flight, I was amazed to see just how long that Boeing 737 MAX was able to fly.  Boeing’s 737 MAX was able to fly for nine hours, albeit with fuel reserves.  I’m looking forward to the first delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX which is expected to occur sometime later in 2017.

What do you think of the test pilots’ sketch? What’s you favorite flight path art you’ve come across?