I don’t remember precisely when I was given this book but, judging from the 1973 publication date, it was probably some time in 1974.
It was, is, a comprehensive guide to the (then) history, current production (70s) and possible future (about the mid 80s-2000s!) of Jet Aircraft. The ‘future’ predicted then included vertical take-off domestic flights from city centre airports and supersonic/hypersonic international flights. If only!
In addition to aircraft and airports it featured lots of pictures of aircraft being designed and built. I found it fascinating, even obscure technical topics like navigation and approach systems which it covers in a surprising level of detail.
I would have bet the Boeing factory was in there but, although their aircraft feature prominently, the assembly pictures are all from McDonnell Douglas, Airbus or BAC! Nonetheless, decades later… the eight year old who read that book was not going to miss his only chance to see a US commercial aircraft plant.
Getting there, my first drive in the USA!
Although there were a tours for both the Hotel concierge recommended renting a car as better (and cheaper) option.
I’ve cycled in the USA, so ridden on the ‘wrong side’, but never driven there before. Although I would have liked to try the Mustang I parked next to in the Boeing carpark (below) it was probably better my rental was the rather staid Nissan Sentra, no longer sold new in NZ, beside it.
It was fine, if forgettable, and certainly economical enough. They were rather generous reading the current fuel level on collection, it was nearer half than the quarter tank noted, so after about 100km I didn’t get billed for gas even though I didn’t add any.
I found adapting to ‘wrong’ side driving fine. Having HERE maps (my preference because they use off-line data) phone GPS and voice directions helped immensely. Suspect I was the only one on the road being told about motorway exits (thanks to ‘British’ voice) and turn distances in metres/kilometres but I found it easier to relate to them irrespective of the miles on signs! The HERE speed limit warnings also worked flawlessly, no tickets!
By the end of the day I was glad to have taken this option. The flexibility of not being locked into tour time restrictions was great.
Future of Flight & Boeing Tour
The Future of Flight Foundation (non-profit) run the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Factory Tours. Their Center has a theatre (for a short intro film to Boeing Tour), store, café, roof top observation deck and an exhibition space. It contains some small aircraft, aircraft components (and part fuselages), engines, a Space Station module and educational displays on aircraft production. From there you jump on a bus around the Paine Field Airport airside perimeter to the Boeing factory itself.
Boeing Factory Tour
Photos don’t really convey the scale of the place but I worked out the Everett Assembly Building alone (399,480 m2) is about the same area as all The Warehouse Stores in New Zealand or forty Rugby stadium fields. It is the largest building in the world by volume.
Unfortunately they don’t allow photos on the airfield tour bus or inside so only have a few of the outside. Although the pace is regimented, due to security, you do get a good view during the tour, from walkways above the factory floor, and plenty of time to take it all in.
The scale of the place and complexity of the assembly jigs was impressive. The engineering of the production process is as impressive as the final product.
We saw 777, 747-8 freighters and 767 (actually KC-46A Pegasus tankers for US Air Force) being assembled in one bay and 787 in another. The 737 are assembled at other sites. The differences between the old ‘riveted’ metal aircraft and ‘spun’ composite 787 production process is very noticeable.
It was awesome to see; although flying is ‘routine’ the skill, technology and dedication which make it possible is far from that. One thing I didn’t mention; having flown to the US on Hawaiian Airbus A330…
The main Everett assembly factory. The (tiny looking) aircraft parked outside (rh corner) is a 787-9 like Air New Zealand fly.
Paint shops opposite, big paint shops!
Seattle, Autodesk University 2017 & Hawaii Travel Index