Boeing suprise

An old friend of mine posted a favourable review of the Everett, WA Boeing tour and Future of Flight museum on his Facebook page back in October, thus planting an idea in my head. Jeff and I capped our great weekend in Warm Beach with some shopping- necessary (in my opinion!) but certainly not on Jeff’s top 10 list of favourite things to do. In thanks for appeasing his bargain-hunting wife, I surprised Jeff with a Boeing visit. He somehow thought we were going to a performance of “Messiah” with the Seattle symphony and as we approached the HUGE Boeing factory, he laughed and said “I don’t think there will be an orchestra or choir in here!”. It was so much fun to surprise him.

Jeff and I both really enjoyed the Future of Flight museum, albeit for different reasons. The historian in our partnership was fascinated by the rapidly developing history of commercial aircraft over the past 60 years while the mechanical engineer was all about the engines, construction and design.

Our work has given both Jeff and I an understanding of manufacturing process but both of us were amazed by the size and scale of Boeing. These photos are from the Boeing website but give an idea of how huge this operation really is. After seeing the 747 assembly line, I could almost understand why the price tag on each of these plans (without engines, seats or lavatories) is $395 million. To help with scale- each of those blue doors on the main factory is the size of a football field.

I fell for the new 787 Dreamliner. We saw numbers 27, 28 and 29 in production (#29 for Air Canada!) and sat in a model of the new cabin design. It is spacious, bright and comfortable with large tinted windows, skylights, double sized lavatories (complete with sanitized floors for each use) and at $150 million (including engines), a great bargain. Its lighter composite material fusilage is manufactured in Italy and transported, in three sections, inside a modified 747 “Dreamlifter” (pictured below) to Everett. Jeff was quite taken with the new design and building materials (that offer a 20% fuel reduction) while I just thought it was really pretty.

Can you tell- I also really enjoyed the tour?! While most of the technical stuff went way over my head, I was really intrigued by aviation’s history and influence on modern society. Flying has become commonplace during my generation and has changed not only the way we live and do business, but the way we view ourselves and the world around us. I think that much of our world is defined by an awareness of and connection to people and places different from our own- and can only imagine that this has happened, in part, thanks to the airline industry.

When we left the museum, a 747 cargo plane was about to take off on a test flight. Payne Field air traffic control was broadcast over loudspeakers in the museum parking lot and it was pretty funny to hear the 747 pilots have to wait for takeoff clearance until a little Cesna landed!


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