After a bit of planning and organizing, our trip to tour the Boeing Plant in Everett and visit the Museum of Flight in South Seattle became a reality.
With a very successful tour in May of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and the Heritage Air Museum in Sidney, the plan next was to head to the Boeing facility and the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
With the help of Pierre Lauzon from the Museum of Flight, who just happened to visit our Comox Air Force Museum in June of this year, the wheels in motion began. We contacted him about our plan and he was more than helpful with ideas and assistance.
We left October 1st for the first leg of our journey and were able to secure accommodation, which was within walking distance right across the street from the Boeing plant. The plan was to visit the Boeing facility on Friday morning, October 2nd, then head to the other museums surrounding Paine Field the balance of the day, which included the Flight Restoration Centre, the Flying Heritage collection and the Museum of Flight Restoration Centre. Unfortunately the Museum of Flight Restoration Centre was not open on Friday so we missed our chance to tour that facility which we have to leave until next time.
As most of us who were around when the Boeing 747 was first launched in the late 1960s, we marvelled at the size of that aircraft. How could this huge piece of metal actually fly? Even more amazing was to watch this aircraft being built and comprehend the size of the building in which it is being built. In an assembly line of planes, these aircraft move down the line and at each stage the pieces come together, much the same way Henry Ford developed the assembly line for his cars at the beginning of the last century.
As we were taken to each stage of construction, we were well guided by our tour guide through the different stages of the manufacturing of this huge aircraft. We were informed that they assemble a 747 every four months.
From there we headed to where the Boeing 787’s assembly took place. Here they are able to complete each plane within a three-week period. The cost runs from $230 million to $295 million per unit and the planes we saw were already pre-sold to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and ANA of Japan.
The tour lasted an hour and a half and we were led through each stage of the operation which runs like a well-oiled machine.
Next we headed to the Historic Flight Restoration Centre and had a chance to view a number of older aircraft from days gone by.
Our next stop was the Flying Heritage Collection and again some of that collection of older aircraft was really nice to see. We could appreciate the incredible dedication and effort the fellows at these facilities have taken to restore some aircraft that you will probably never see again.
Saturday morning, we set out for the Museum of Flight in South Seattle. To be able to convey the scope and magnitude of this museum is very difficult. Touring the Concord aircraft, President Kennedy’s Air Force One, to viewing the SR71 enclosed in the museum was an experience beyond compare for any aircraft buff. Every imaginable size and shape of plane seemed to be on display along with a mock-up of the Space Station and full-blown aircraft simulators which you could strap yourself into and fly like the rest of the pilots.
For anyone who is interested in war history, there were many artifacts, photos, and displays that were very interesting. The role of women pilots was well documented and acknowledges the role of women during both world wars, which was not very well known. From the early days of airplanes, to the space program, the courage and determination of these pioneers was acknowledged and celebrated throughout the museum.
Our host, museum docent Pierre Lauzon was there to meet us on his day off and give us a personal tour of some of the aircraft he was familiar with. As a former Boeing employee for over thirty years on the east coast of the United States, he settled in the Seattle area a few years ago to retire, but found himself volunteering as many of us do at the museum.
Again, we can’t think him enough for his help and guidance and also his donation of books to our museum.
We would strongly recommend that if you like aircraft and aircraft history, do take the time for the same tour of the Boeing Plant and Museum of Flight. You won’t regret it!
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the Boeing Plant, as cameras, cell phones and anything else that would record the experience were not allowed.
** Contributed by Maggie and Randy Komar