Thursday, October 10, 2013

September 20th, Part One: Some really big planes that I can't show you

After a semi-ok night's sleep in the hotel, a quick workout in the very depressing 'fitness center' (where all but one thing was broken), and a somewhat passable breakfast in the hotel's lobby (I'm sorry...can you tell this hotel wasn't one of my favorites?), we checked out, threw our stuff in the car, and drove to our next stop. It was time for the Boeing Factory Tour!

Since we already had our tickets, we had a little free time to spend in the Future of Flight Aviation Center before the tour started. They had some pretty neat exhibits, including fuselage cross sections and samples of some crazy first class seats. They even had a Beech Starship hanging in the back corner (*drool*!)

My favorite part was the Boeing 727 cockpit. Vroom!!   :)

Mark is already practicing to be my copilot. All the knobs and buttons are going to take some getting used to.

The flight engineer's panel.

After wandering around for a while, we put our stuff in a locker and filed into the auditorium for a pre-tour video. After being told numerous times that any phones or cameras would be confiscated, we filed onto a bus and took a short ride over to the factory. A short walk down a long tunnel and an elevator ride later, we found ourselves looking at numerous 747s in various stages of completion. Since it's an active factory, we could actually see the workers riveting things together and installing various pieces of the planes. There were fuselage sections lined up all over the place. It looked like they were toys, not enormous airplanes.

After checking out the 747 line, we made our way to a different part of the factory where they assemble the 777 and the 787. You could stand on one part of the platform and see both lines at once, which was pretty cool. They had just done a line change (or something like that - I forget the exact term our tour guide used) the night before, so there was an empty spot in the 787 line closest to the door because they had just moved one of the planes outside overnight. The next 787 in line was number 136. I managed to find a listing of line numbers for the 787'll be cool to see where that plane eventually winds up! Maybe I can fly on it someday.   :)

You're not allowed to take pictures on the tour, but if you want to get an idea of what it's like on the factory floor, go here. This person was able to get a VIP tour and got some great pictures of the 777 and 787 lines. That's exactly how it looks...and it's almost impossible to get an idea of the scale of the operation. Those planes are massive. And not only are the planes massive, the building is massive. It's listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest building in the world by volume. At any given time, they have numerous fully assembled 747s, 767s, 777s, and 787s all together under one roof. It was really impressive.

After the tour we hit up the gift shop (not only does Boeing design great airplanes, they also make excellent rain jackets), then grabbed our things and went to check out the deck on top of the building. The factory is located at Snohomish County/Paine Field (PAE), and there were a few planes in the pattern. I hoped we'd see a jet take off, but no such luck.

You can see the factory across the field; it's the building on the left. The paint sheds are the buildings on the right. Did you know that darker paint weighs more than lighter paint? On one of the heavy jets, it can make a 1000+ lb difference in the weight of the plane! (We had a really good tour guide who told us all sort of trivia like that.) For an idea of how big the buildings are, I think that's a 767 sitting between the factory and the paint sheds.

After checking out the view for a little while, we made our way back down to the car and starting driving south. It was just about lunchtime...time to go check out downtown Seattle!

No comments:

Post a Comment