Close to two hundred people turned out on a cold, windy March morning to watch the first Mobile-made Airbus jet take flight.
The Jet Blue A321 took off at 9:36 am as the crowd watched and cheered at Doyle Park, just beyond the south fence line of the Brookley Aeroplex.
“I thought it would be the thing to do,” said Sam Jernigan.
“We had to get out here and see this,” said Mike Moris, whom used to live in Mobile but now resides in Louisiana.
“This is very significant,” added Robert Battles, who grew up in the Brookley neighborhood and is now a Mobile County School Board Commissioner.
Michael Fillers was there with his three young children.
“I took them out of school,” said Fillers. “I thought it would be a historic event and I want them to see what Airbus is really like. So, there’s nothing better than being under an airplane when it takes off.”
Spectators say they were filled with civic pride as they watched the jet take off.
“It’s a big deal for us, for the city, a big deal for the future of aviation in Mobile,” said Rod Cromer. “Mobile is once again going to be an aviation city.”
Mobilians have intently followed the recruitment of Airbus, and the construction process at Brookley.Large crowds turned out last summer to see the first oversized components – the fuselage and wings – arrive from Europe.
“When you saw the picture of it coming in on the truck, different parts, and then you saw pictures of it in the hangar, all the funny colors, it was a whole lot different than seeing it take off today,” said Tim Soileau. “It was pretty moving.”
“It’s very exciting to see it and it’s a great, great part of history for Mobile, Alabama,” said Andrew Robbins.
By 2018, it’s expected that four planes a month will be manufactured in Mobile. So, it won’t be long before these tests flights will be routine
But Monday’s maiden flight will always be special.
“There will be hundreds to come after it but they’ll never be another first one,” said Cromer.