Demo Flights Show How Planes Can Do What You Thought Impossible

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Airliners and militaries will order hundreds of planes this week at the Farnborough Air Show in England. Part of the courtship ritual that can lead to an airliner order is the demonstration flight. Would you want to be on a flight like this?

In Boeing's "show before the show" on YouTube, we get to see the new 787-9 Dreamliner practicing for its Farnborough demonstration flight. It takes off like a rocket, then levels out and performs hard-banking turns like a fighter jet. It's an incredible testament to the design and abilities of the plane.

Airbus A380 demo flight from Farnborough 2012

Boeing's first 787-9 Dreamliner, the second version of the long-haul twin aisle aircraft, was delivered to Air New Zealand last week.

One demo flight stands alone in aviation history — the barrel roll of a Boeing 367-80 prototype on August 7, 1955 in Seattle, Washington. The pilot, Tex Johnson, was called into his boss' office the next day. When asked what Tex thought he was doing, he replied, "selling airplanes."

Seeing these planes handle flights like this without flinching should put travelers' fear during turbulence into some perspective. It's also comforting to know they're designed and tested to handle 150 percent of the stress than they'd ever encounter in a real-world scenario.