SEATTLE, DAY 5: NOV 3, 2015 (TUE). Boeing Factory Tour (Future of Flight)

WEATHER: PARTIALLY CLOUDY

I like airplanes. I like to see outside world from airplanes, and sometimes, airplanes carry dream, just like my Seattle trip. Airlines are getting pretty much same these days and cutting both services and quality after a tough competition, but I think airplanes are still a special form of transportation for many people. Maybe that’s why there are many more kids and adults want to be pilots rather than train conductors or bus drivers. I was, too. Unfortunately, my vision was pretty bad and my English wasn’t good, the pilot was the dream I had to give up.

So going to Boeing factory in Everett was my another long time dream and my must plan in Seattle. A big question. I knew I had to join a tour at the factory, but did I have to attend one of the tours by travel agencies from Seattle? They all would cost between $65-$100 per person and expensive for me. According to the website of Future of Flight, that operates Boeing tour and a small museum, a ticket could be easily reserved by the website with a variety of time options available and only $16 for off-peak advance purchase. Because travel agency tours included nothing else other than round trip transportation and factory tour, rest of $50-$85 would be a huge waste for me. Plus they usually had only one or two options of departure times. I didn’t feel convenient. I found out on the internet that it would be easy to go to the factory by bus from Seattle, although it would take time and require a transfer. Still buses were scheduled to operate every 30 minutes. I decide to take buses. For more info about the direction by public transportation, please see “Direction” below.

I estimated ample times for going to the factory in the case of traffic. Fortunately, everything was smooth, and I arrived at the nearby bus stop way ahead of my plan by being able to take an earlier bus. My tour was 3:00 pm, but I arrived there earlier than 1:00 pm. There were some restaurants around the bus stop at the corner of Highway 525 and 84th St SW, so I took lunch at a Chinese restaurant, “Rainbow Wok & Teriyaki”, across the street. That was actually Korean owned, but “Mongolian Beef lunch special” was nice and good price. The beef was juicy.

Entrance of Future of Flight and the tail of B747 Dreamlifter (below)

Future of Flight was located beyond the steep slope of 84th Street. The excitement started soon after crossing the slope. I saw plenty of brand new airplane, airplane, and airplane on the runway of famous Paine Field Airport. I even saw Boeing 747 Dreamlifter pushing head on the hanger when I reached the intersection in front of Future of Flight. I passed over the building and went to the closet point to runaway at parking. 2 KLM, 2 Qatar Airways, British Airways, ANA….wow, how many new B787s were on the runaway?

Many brand new B787s

The time was still way before 2:00 pm. The counter staff kindly asked me if I wanted to change to 2:00 pm tour when I checked in, and my answer was yes.  I expected the tour would be empty because of the off-peak Tuesday. I didn’t see many people in the museum. Surprisingly, there were about 25 people on the tour. Majority was foreigners. We first watched a brief documentary at the theater, then rode on a tour bus ran between the new B787s on runaway I previously saw. 

The 90 minutes tour first led us to a giant factory of B777 and 747 (all 3 747 on the production line were freight planes for Korean Air), then another giant factory of 787 and 767 (yes, 767 was still on production while 787 replaced the main production). It was no way we could see the production line from the ground floor, but the views from upstairs were spectacular. Probably I could keep looking all day long. And one day, I might get on one of the airplanes I saw at the factory, hopefully at first class 🙂 !    

The guide by Paul was very nice and interesting. A few of interesting trivia were

1. Paine Field Airport wasn’t owned by Boeing but local Snohomish County. The county leased the part of the airport to Boeing. Wow, I though the airport was Boeing owned.

2. Each manufactures set up engines and interior, not Boeing.

3. Engines of 787 and 747-8 were same, but 747-8 version had to be GE, not Rolls Royce.

Photo and smartphones were a big no-no to the property. All personal belongings including bags were to be stored inside of lockers with fee located at lobby level. Memory was the best picture at the factory tour. It was worth to attend!

Exhibitions of the museum

I spent at the adjoining museum after the tour. There weren’t many exhibitions, including small aircraft, real 777 engines, and displays. The best part was the real cockpit of B727, not a mockup, and we could sit down and touch anything! It was my first experience to sit down in a real cockpit. Ok, I almost lost my mind and was back to childhood for about 20 minutes, using advantage there was nobody around the cockpit. I touched machinery, tried to control the airplane, took selfies…exciting! The cockpit seat was so comfortable, maybe one of the best seat I had ever experienced. I almost forgot time was flying!

Actual B727 cockpit. I forgot what airline it was. I think Eastern if not my mistake.
Beautiful sunset over the bay from 84th Street toward nearby bus stop on Hwy 525.

I went back to my room after stopping over at Amazon Book, just opened on that day and University Village Shopping Center. Both were nothing special for me.

Brand new Amazon Bookstore and University Villege

(DIRECTION)
Future of Flight, including Boeing factory tour, is located in small town of Mukilteo, about 25 miles north of Seattle and 8 miles south of Everett.

It is about 1 hour 45 minutes trip by connection of buses from downtown Seattle. First, take Sound Transit 512 bus to Everett, and get off at Lynnwood Transit Center after 35 minutes. 512 bus from Seattle stops at Bay D1, and to Seattle at D3. Go to Bay 3, then take Community Transit 113 to Mukilteo. Lynwood Transit Center was well organized and easy to identify each bus stop. Get off at Highway 525 and 84th Street SW after about 45 minutes. 84th Street is just behind the bus stop, and there is a Taco Bell on the corner. Turn left on 84th Street toward higher elevation. You will see Future of Flight after 5-10 minutes, almost on the top of a hill.

Both Sound Transit and Community Transit has automatic stop announcement inside of the bus and accept ORCA card. There is usually 15 minutes waiting time at Lynnwood Transit Center.

Both Sound Transit and Community Transit were clean and comfortable with reclining seats. Especially Community Transit had soft cushioned reclining seats, one of the best commuter bus line I had ever ridden (I saw some new buses with regular plastic seats, so hopefully they will keep comfortable buses for a while).

The bus driver was kind but didn’t know about nearby Future of Flight bus stop, so you should listen to automatic announcement carefully.

512 is frequent and mostly run on the highway while 113 runs every 30 minutes on local roads and some detours.

FUTURE OF FLIGHT : http://www.futureofflight.org

ADDRESS: 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo, WA 98275
MAP: https://goo.gl/maps/jB7aTpGBBW72
TEL: 425-438-8100

(NOTE)
If you’re an Apple user, most likely Safari is not compatible to purchase Future of Flight tickets online. I tried Safari on both my iPad and iPhone several times but didn’t work. I don’t know why. When I used Chrome on both, I could finally access to reservation page. There was a ticket counter as well as the self-machines so no need to print out your ticket. Note advance reservation is a little cheaper than walk in rate.

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