Today was the 2010 Boeing Aviation Geek Fest.
Let me begin by saying, going on the Boeing tour at the best of times is pretty geeky. This on the other hand, is a once a year tour they don’t promote heavily, but the aviation geeks find out about one way or another.. It’s slightly more expensive than the regular tour, but it’s really for the hardcore fans.
We started off the day.. well, first, getting here from Canada. We left home and drove to Sumas. Took about 1.75 hours to get across the border.. first a 60 minute lineup to get to the border, then another 45 minutes in with the good people of Immigration to get our I-94 waiver forms (mostly waiting in lines – despite it not being the usual “tourist” border, they were still very nice), then zooming down the highway and getting to the Future of Flight and “checking in” for 1330 hours.
The AGF day started with a session from Boeing’s professional aviation geek, Michael Lombardi, who is employed as an aviation historian. He went through the last 40 years of Boeing, and gave some fun insights and back stories, then a bit of a Q+A, then some chatting with each other over free candy (yay halloween), then the tour.
Let me step back.. the regular Boeing tour is pretty cool, you walk on high level platforms and look out over a sight which is similar to the construction of the USSS Enterprise in the most recent Star Trek movie. This tour, on the other hand, is at ground level, walking on the actual factory floor, and through, around and on planes in various stages of production. Sweeet. You have to wear eye protection, just in case, and watch your step through and around cables. It’s an amazing facility up close.
Inside the factory we saw 777 LN903 for Turkish Airlines up close and personal, getting to kick the tires, almost literally, in addition to actually walking in and around the pieces that would make up LN908 for Air Egypt. As well as that, we saw the first 747-8i in final body join, a bunch of 787s (including the first 3 for Air India) and the 787 static test article.
Then, they dragged us out of the factory, with some difficulty and back onto the bus. Which did a tour of the KPAE flightline parking lot. I believe a record for the loudest cheer for doing a left-hand turn was set this day when this was announced. We went up and around all the planes waiting for final fit-out and delivery (this site has pictures of them from a-far). Saw 777s for V Australia and Air New Zealand, as well as all the 787s for ANA, and a bunch of 787-8f’s for Cargolux, Korean Airlines and Cathay Pacific Cargo.
Then it was back to the Future of Flight center for Pizza and networking with other geeks before heading off to our hotel.
Everyone knows planes are big, even “small” planes like the 737, but the size of the 747 and 777s are pretty amazing. I gush on the regular factory tour, and it’s probably more interesting for most people than the one we did, but the fact is that almost every international airliner in service today was made in either this factory, or Airbus’s in Toulouse.
What Boeing makes here is pretty much the pinnacle of humankind’s knowledge of technology and ability to build machines, and it’s amazing privilege to get up close and personal on the factory floor. Future of Flight is an amazing center at the best of times, and I have to say, today was an amazing day. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend. Very few members of the public get to do factory floor tours, with this years and last years, there was some overlap, so it’s probably under 75 people have done this one.
So thank you very much to Future of Flight, Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Airline Reporter for organising the day! Look forward to next year’s!
See also: Photos from the Stratodeck