Does anyone remember 37564?
That’s the msn of an early-build 747-8 Freighter, originally one of twelve ordered by Atlas Air Worldwide holdings. But Atlas exercised a contractual right to cancel the first three of those orders, and for some time the three freighters sat as whitetails.
Two of the three were eventually sold to an “unidentified customer” and are now being operated by Saudia Cargo, but the third remained an orphan – all white except for Atlas livery on its rudder. However, in late October it appeared sporting fresh blue paint on its nacelles – Atlas blue? Silk Way blue?. No announcement was made about a customer, but the fresh paint suggested that something was in the works.
And today, with the countdown to Super Bowl Sunday at “SB minus 4 and counting,” we find out that no, it wasn’t Atlas blue, nor Silk Way blue, but in fact Seahawks blue! Yes, Boeing’s hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, will be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, and Boeing, as a team sponsor, did a little work in the paint shop to show its support.
Now, we should probably pause here, because while painting an aircraft in the livery of a sports team is not new, or unique to the US, the significance of the number on the tail may need some explanation to those of our readers who reside in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. We all have our favorite sports, and we can all sit down over a pint or two and argue about the merits of football vs football, cricket vs baseball, hockey vs just about anything, and so on. but on thing is inarguable: the loudest sports venue in the world is the Seattle Seahawks’ football stadium. The acoustics of the place, and the passion of the local fans, are such that the noise goes beyond mere “noise” and actually registers on local seismometers as an earthquake event of between 1 and 2 on the Richter scale. (Consult the Guinness Book of Records if you don’t believe me.)
What does that have to do with the “12” painted on the tail? Well, in US football, each team can have only 11 players on the field. But the noise generated by the Seattle fans when the opposing team is trying to play has such an effect that throughout the country it is generally accepted that the Seahawks are allowed to play with a “twelfth man.” (The entire city sometimes seems draped with flags and banner displaying only that one number.) And I suspect that when the 68,000 people that pack the Seahawks’ home field on game day are cheering, you could probably fly that 747-8F right over the field and no one would hear it.