Aviation Geek Heaven: Boeing Factory Tour + Future of Flight + Museum of Flight

Blog Post created by kharada46 on Nov 29, 2015

Following our Day Trip to Canada and dinner at Vancouver Eat's - Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar, the wife and I zoomed back to the hotel.  On the way back we used the Nexus/Global entry lane and were across the border in a minute or two.  We stopped for gas at the nearest station and raced our way back into Seattle.  We got back to the hotel just over 2.5 hours after we left the restaurant (oops, was I really driving that fast? ) and went to bed, as the next morning was another early one and one of the most anticipated one of the entire trip... visiting Boeing. 


Ok, so the the above photo is of an actual Boeing facility and not the factory tour one, but we took a wrong turn and ended up here, so why not snap a couple of pictures right?    The actual entrance is around the corner a bit with a clear view Paine Field/PAE and right across the street from a Hilton...


After snapping a couple more photos of PAE, we headed inside to get our tour tickets from the kiosks and rent our locker to store our camera, phones, etc, since absolutely no electronics are allowed on the tour.  After that we queued up for our tour.


Once they're ready for you, you'll be issued a group number and will enter a theater like rule.  There you'll have some people go over rules, procedures, etc. and watch an introductory video on the Boeing Company.  They also have you fill out a survey about the company itself, which I found a little odd.  Once that's done, you'll be directed out of one of two doors to the buses depending on your group number.  From there it's a quick drive around PAE to Boeing's main assembly line.


On our tour we got to view the assembly line of the 747-8, 787s and 777.  It was a surreal experience, though it felt too brief.  Lots of interesting information and sights for sure, and it's amazing how small everything looks from the observation decks.  To be fair, however, the building is the largest building in the world by volume and frequently creates its own climate inside.  We were also lucky enough to see the inside of one of the painting hangers during our visit (from the bus), as well as have a Korean Air 747-8 buzz our bus on final as we headed back to the museum.  There is a fair bit of walking, including some slightly steep steps, but nothing too bad.  Arrangements can be made for those with limited mobility as well.


It's an experience I'd highly recommend to any AvGeek and is well worth the money.  What wasn't worth the money to me, though, was the Future of Flight museum.  Thankfully admission was included with the tour itself, but geez... there isn't much to see there.  The highlight for me was the observation deck looking over PAE. 




After our time at the Future of Flight, we headed into Everett for some lunch, but not before passing the factory.


Following our brief stop in Everett, we mad our way to the Museum of Flight, south of Seattle. 


I was excited for this visit too, as the museum is home to the original 747, a Concorde, a 787, etc.  However, after processing our payment (which was north of $50 for 2), the ticket agent told us that the air park with a lot of the historic aircraft was closed due to aircraft movement (they were re-arranging them).  Further, a good chunk of the museum was also closed for who knows what, so we couldn't see a lot of the space exhibits.  Honestly, if I knew that was going to be the case beforehand, I wouldn't have paid and would have just left.  Especially since we later found out there would be a wedding at the museum after they close, and the staff insisted on setting things up, while simultaneously blocking exhibits, during museum hours.  Not such a great experience, but we did get to see a few interesting things.


Lockheed M-21 with D-21 drone.



Apollo Capsule



ISS module


Apollo Era LEM ascent stage


Apollo Era Lunar Rover


Commander John Young's Apollo Era pressure suite


German V-1 Flying Bomb


F-4 Phatnom


Boeing Defense Catfish.  The Top Secret franken 757 testbed aircraft for F-22 systems


F-104 Starfighter



SR-71s Pratt & Whitney J58



Lockheed Electra


P-40 Warhawk


P-51 Mustang


I figured out that you could see some of the air park from the cafe, so despite the wife's protest about the cafe being close, I decided to head on outside to take a peak.  Hey, if they're going to be the way they were to us, I'm going to try to maximize my money spent.  And after a brief stop in the gift shop to pickup something for my grandfather, it was time to head back into Seattle.  But first, some pictures of Boeing's 737 Delivery Center.



Once back at the hotel at the hotel, we watched the sunset over Elliot Bay and tried to figure our where to go for dinner. 


It was another long, tiring day for us with a few more bumps than I would've liked, but an interesting day nonetheless.  I'd definitely do the Boeing Factory Tour again, but I'm not sure about the Museum of Flight.  I want to see the rest of it, especially the parts we didn't get to see, but I'm a bit butt-hurt of how they ripped us off and treated paying guests throughout.  Further, even with the steep admission fee, nearly all of the activities within the museum required additional fees.  It just astonishes me how much they nickel-and-dime you there, but what else would you expect? 


Boeing Tour Tickets - Future of Flight Aviation Center

Museum of Flight