Britain is once again gearing up to host the forthcoming 2012 Summer Olympics which will see the likes of athletes such as Usain Bolt taking center stage. But another name that has nothing to do with sports is currently grabbing the headlines. Flag carrier airline, British Airways, has made a name for itself by carrying the iconic Olympic torch to the United Kingdom from Athens on a stunningly designed gold-painted A319 jet.
Called Firefly, the special flight’s touchdown in the United Kingdom marked the start of the 70-day relay of the torch around the country. Permission was given to British Airways to carry the torch by the Civil Aviation Authority, no doubt furthering the reputation of the flag carrier.
The precious ‘passenger’ was to have shared space with renowned personalities like soccer star David Beckham and the 2012 London Olympics chairman, Seb Coe. Besides flying the torch, the airline will ferry passengers to the venue in dove-themed planes once the Olympic Games kick off.
Being Britain largest airline, it isn’t surprising that British Airways was given the go-ahead. As for Firefly, the flaming golden craft pays perfect tribute to the Olympics, an event that sees over 200 countries participate. A modern day take on the Ancient Olympic Games held in Greece, the event is considered to be the largest and foremost sports competition in the world.
The Olympic torch was encased in a Davy lamp to protect it from damage. Incidentally, the torch was classified as a dangerous product and British Airways was authorized to fly it only after a detailed safety case was designed by Captain David Thomas, the pilot flying the craft, and the airline’s Dangerous Goods Team.
Prior to the flight, Thomas was asked his thoughts on having to ferry his precious cargo. Not surprisingly, he said that the fact that hundreds of cameras would be trained on the craft meant that he would have to watch his every move.