Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Boeing Tour Is Must-See While In The Seattle Area


The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has captured the imagination of frequent fliers and aviation enthusiasts around the world and the internet is alive with videos showing the first test flights of this new ultra-efficient airliner.

If you're one of those who is fascinated by the development of this aircraft and the history of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company, a visit to the Seattle metropolitan area simply has to include a visit to the Future of Flight, the company's public tour offered in Mukilteo, just a half-hour drive north of downtown Seattle.

You'll get an up-close view of the first few Boeing 787's and you'll be able to see step-by-step how Boeing constructs the modern airliners that you board when you take off for exotic destinations around the world. Although aviation buffs will be the most enthralled with the tour, this is one of those activities that the whole family will enjoy. It's educational, fascinating and fun all at the same time.

The Boeing Company has gone to great expense to create a tour center worthy of this historic company. Inside these modern facilities - built in 2005 -- you'll find a 100-seat theater and a restaurant in addition to a couple of stores with Boeing related merchandise - everything from model airplanes to leather bomber jackets. The museum area displays several historic aircraft allowing you to get a true feel for their size and features.

But that's just the beginning. A comfortable upscale motorcoach will take you the short distance to the manufacturing area where you'll be able to walk through the largest building in the world by volume, as recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records. The building was built in the mid-60's as Boeing began work on the 747 jumbo jet and has grown over the years to enclose 472 million cubic feet of space over 98.3 acres. Currently the building is used to assemble the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner.

The tour lasts 90 minutes, but the time goes fast as a knowledgeable guide takes you step by step through the construction of an airplane. You'll see how the various parts of the aircraft are pre-positioned on an assembly line and added piece by piece. You'll see the production in various stages because several aircraft are under construction at any given time. Along the way there are helpful displays that explain the amazing process that creates flying machines that are safe and reliable with many redundancies built in to ensure that the failure of no single system will bring the airplane down.

The tours are conducted in English and each tour is 90 minutes. Visitors are asked not to take still or video cameras on the tour, and children must be at least four feet tall. Visitors can't carry babies on the tour. You'll need to leave personal items behind in your car or you can rent a locker in the tour center.

Visitors will need to walk about one-third mile and up 21 steep stairs. The tour is available to handicapped individuals -- you just need to give them advance notice. But there are no restroom facilities available during the tour.

The tour center is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.mand closed only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For reservations and information on tickets phone 1 800-464-1476. Tickets are first-come, first-served, and the tour fills up quickly in summer months.