SEATTLE ( TheStreet) -- The two-and-a-half year wait for Boeing's ( BA) 787 ended today when the Dreamliner took flight in its home state. Pilots Michael Carriker and Randall Neville lifted off at about 10:30 a.m. PST from Everett's Paine Field on a four-hour flight over Washington state to perform a variety of basic tests and systems checks before landing at Seattle's Boeing Field. The huge blue and white aircraft paused for several minutes at the end of the runway, adding to the tension for the several thousand Boeing employees, customers and airline executives standing on the tarmac to watch. About 25,000 people braved the cold and damp to watch the 787 take off. Paine Field operations director Bruce Goetz says most of the crowd were Boeing employees or members of the general public. Also in the crowd were executives from the airlines that plan to buy the new plane. Joe Bierce, a flight instructor for Delta Connection traveled from Jacksonville, Fla., for the event. "It's very historical," said Bierce, noting the plane's many innovations. "I can't think of a thing about it that I'm not impressed with." Although the runway was lined with fire trucks and other emergency vehicles with lights flashing, the first flight looked like a normal takeoff for an airliner as the huge engines kicked up clouds of mist. Boeing has had about $3.5 billion in charges (both cash and non-cash) associated with delays in the once-vaunted development program. The flight, which is scheduled to last five hours, will be Webcast on www.boeing.com.
The second 787 Dreamliner designated for flight test in Everett, Wash.