We woke up early so that we would be able to make it to the ten am tour of the Boeing factory in the town of Everett. First, we needed to get a car. Nalin is a Zipcar member so renting a car was a breeze but he decided to be bold in his choice of vehicle. He decided to rent a giant Toyota Tacoma Pickup truck. I did the sensible thing and immediately criticised his choice of vehicle. It was large, ridiculous and crazy.
Our "chariot" for the day
Nevertheless, we were going to be going to the current home of Boeing, all be in a giant pickup truck. First, we would be meeting Nalin's friend Ruth from our old school, United World College, for breakfast. She would be meeting us at a place which serves vegetarian biscuits and gravy. The restaurant where we would be eating had quite the charming name. It was called Biscuit Bitch and while the restaurant had quite the name, the food and the service was anything but bitchy. While I had never had biscuit and gravy before, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was also nice to meet Nalin's friend who is working at one of the schools in Seattle. She works at The Northwest School as a Residential Life Councillor. She works mostly with kids who are boarding at the school and her work was quite interesting.
After spending time with Ruth we fired up the Tacoma and drove north to the Boeing factory. On the way, we experienced a couple of issues with the truck. Nalin was not used to this size and it had an appalling fuel economy. We had to stop for fuel on the way to the factory even though Nalin filled up the behemoth this morning. The drive was about forty minutes and eventually we reached the massive grounds that is the Boeing factory. Before reaching the museum where the tour starts, we drove alongside the runway which is a part of the factory. We were quite shocked to see not one, but two gigantic Antonov An-124 freighters parked there. We were puzzled as to why a Ukrainian made frighter was parked at the home of Boeing. Thanks to the tour we soon found out the reason.
A truly giant aircraft
We arrived at the lobby of the museum which is where our tour would begin. Nalin had brought his whole camera kit but bringing it turned out to be a waste. This is because, for security reasons, no photo taking devices are allowed in the factory. This even included cell phones which are switched off. So we had to lock up our phones and the cameras in on of the rentable lockers. After a small video presentation about the history of the Everett factory and the wide-bodied aircraft made inside, we soon started the tour. We boarded a bus which would ferry us from the museum buliding to the Boeing facotry buliding which is the largest buliding in the world.
The factory buliding which is also known as the largest buliding in the world
We soon began the tour and we first started off in the hangar where they manufacture the Boeing 747-8. The 747-8 is the longest and in my opinion the best looking plane in the world. It was truly impressive to see how they make the aircraft. The Boeing 747 uses a moving production line, much like an automobile. Our guide informed us that because there is hardly any interest in the 747, production will be slowing down. Currently, production is at twenty units a year but they are reducing production to just six. This is because airlines these days prefer two engined aircraft like the 777 and 787. These two airliners are more fuel efficient, they have more range and they can carry almost the same number of people. I felt it was a great shame as the 747 is an incredibly beautiful airliner. It has a distinct shape and it is recognised worldwide. If I could tell my six-year-old self that one day I would be going to the Boeing factory. My six-year-old self would cry in happiness seeing the massive 747 being built.
After admiring the 747 productions we headed to the next hangar to see the manufacturing of the 777. We would be specifically seeing the 777-300ER which is currently the most popular variant. On the hangar wall, we noticed a bunch of airline tails and this is to show which airline currently operates the 777. The 777 uses a moving production line much like the 747. We were able to see the first 777-300ER being made for Swiss international airlines and the fiftieth one for Qatar Airways.
After looking at the 777 production line we walked on over to see the production of Boeings latest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner. The way they construct the 787 is different to the other wide-body aircraft made by Boeing. The 787 is different because it is made out of composite materials in addition to Aluminium. The plane has components made from all over the globe. The production technique they used is called modular construction. This means that the prefrabricated components come together to construct the aircraft. It is not a moving production line unlike the 747-8 and the 777. To deliver components, Boeing has made special 747 freighters to deliver components. These planes are called Dreamlifters. But when they’re not available the Boeing company leases giant Antonov aircraft. This answered the question, why are those Non-American behemoths parked on Boeing field. It was here where we got to see the forty-eighth 787 made for the launch customer All Nippon Airways or ANA for short. All in all, it was incredibly exciting to see these aircraft being made in person. Afterwards, we headed back to the museum to get a view of the delivery centre. This is where the final product gets delivered to the customer after hours of testing. Boeing fills the plane up with enough fuel for the customers to fly the aircraft to their nearest service centre. We were able to witness a British Airways 787-9 landing on a test flight and Saudia’s first ever 787 taking off. As an avid plane enthusiast or "Av Geek", it was a great way to start the day. In addition to these aircraft we saw brand new aircraft waiting to be collected by their new owners.
Fuselage sections of the Boeing 787
Admiring the view
Brand new aircraft waiting to be handed over
A seaplane landing
The Rocky Mountains
Before heading back to Seattle we decided to visit the small museum which is where we commenced our tour. It was here we got to look at a mock-up of the massive General Electric GE-90 engine. It is also known as the most powerful jet engine in the world. One of these can produce a 115,000 pounds of the thrust. The engine model we saw was pretty large untill we saw a curious looking sign. This sign said that this mock-up is only a scale model. This mock-up was only 90% the size of the engine. They also had mock-ups of cockpits, airline bodies and even private jet mock-ups. All-in-all I had a great time here but we soon had to head back to Seattle. Before heading back to Seattle Nalin and I had to do one thing.
The mock-up of the GE-90
My reaction to the immense size of a 787 jet engine from Rolls Royce
At this museum there are computers where you can design your own plane. Since the two of us are sensible, mature adults we deicded to have a go. It quickly became ridiculous and humerous. The following images are our humorous attempts at making aricraft. We hope Boeing is hiring new plane designers because we fit the bill perfectly.
Nalin's ridiculous aircraft which he dubbed the hypermiler
My less ridiculous aircraft
After visiting the Boeing factory and filling up the Tacoma yet again we decided to head on over to Redmond. This is the home of tech giant Microsoft. While they don’t have any big tour they do have an interactive and immersive visitor centre. Over here we get to look at some of the latest Microsoft products that we can buy. This ranges from fitness bands to tablets, to gaming consoles. We had great fun trying out the new products. One of the products was a variation of their Kinect. On this, you could play around with a feature called a virtual wardrobe. Later Nalin and I spent some time in the gift store trying to find some discounted Microsoft products. It was only after an hour that we realised that non-Microsoft were not allowed to purchase any of their electronic items. For that, we would have to go into downtown Seattle. It was a shame as I was quite keen on purchasing the Microsoft band which is one of the fitness bands available on the market today. So we left Microsoft and the city of Redmond and headed back to Seattle.
One of the many toys you can buy at Microsoft
While cruising in the Tacoma we were trying to look up places to eat. After much debate, we finally decided upon a small vegan restaurant called Café Flora. I treated myself to a gluten free burger while my brother had the Eggplant sandwich. Since I wasn’t driving, I took the opportunity to have a drink which was an organic pale ale. It was smooth and tasty.
Afterwards, we headed towards Kerry park which was in a suburban area. Over here we could get an incredible view of the Seattle skyline. The drive was on some hilly roads and when we reached the park we were treated to typical Seattle weather. It was a great way to end our Seattle trip.
The Seattle skyline
Tomorrow would be our first day in Utah and more importantly, my first day of Driving in the United States of America. This would be a real fish out of water experience.