A Tour of the Birthplace of the World’s Most Famous Jet
The Boeing Factory is located at Paine Field in Snohomish County, WA. Boeing has been producing aircraft for years. Almost everyone, AvGeek or not, knows the name. I had the chance to take a tour of the Boeing plant. It was absolutely remarkable.
You can purchase tickets for the Factory Tour online or at the museum. I recommend you do buy them online in advance so that you are guaranteed to get on your desired tour. While several tours do run every day, they can sell out fast. Tickets were $35, which I felt was a fair price.
It is suggested that you arrive at the Boeing Museum a half hour before your tour. Once your ticket is punched, you will be directed into a large movie theatre-like room. The tour guide will show you a brief video giving people a last-second chance to use the bathroom.
Bathrooms are not easily accessible on the tour. Also, phones, cameras, and any other electronic devices are not allowed on the tour for safety reasons. Lockers are provided for you to store your belongings in.
After a short video, you will board a bus that will take you to the factory. As you drive to the plant, you will pass right by brand new jets on the ramp.
At your first stop, you will walk through a long tunnel to get to the elevator. This tour is handicap accessible. You will be taken up to level four, where you can look out and see the giant cranes moving wings and fuselages together for manufacturing. On one side of the hangar, you will see several parts spread out. If you look to the other side, you will see the final product; all put together. The tour guides do an excellent job of explaining the process that goes into assembling the 767's and the 747's in the first few hangars.
After this, you will be directed back to the bus. From there, you will continue down the massive hangar. At the next stop, you will walk through a giant tunnel to another elevator following the walk. You will be brought to the fourth-floor observatory where you'll be able to see 777s and 787s manufactured. I was also lucky enough to see the first 777X in production. On one side of the hangar, there were five fully built 787-9s lined up. It was super neat to see those massive planes up close. Only the tail of each aircraft had been painted so you could tell whose was whose. On the other side, I could see a Qatar 777F entirely built ready to fly. Even further down, there was another Qatar 777, the -300 variant, prepared to be tested then delivered. Behind that 777-300 was the 777X.
As you begin your trip back to the museum, the tour guide explained how the employees go about moving those massive jets out to the ramp. The front of the hangars is used as a parking lot during the day, so planes can only be moved at night when everyone is gone.
Also, Boeing has been put in charge of building the military's new inflight refueler, the KC-46 Pegasus. There were several parked on the ramp. Back at the museum, you can see a Dreamlifter, a decked-out 747, that hauls fuselages and wings from the plant in Charleston to Everett.
Usually, two fly in on a daily basis. Also, at the museum, there is the StratoDeck. It is an observatory terrace that allows people to take pictures of planes parked over on the ramp and to see inbound and outbound planes arrive and depart. A gift shop (with a huge selection of 1:400 and 1:200 models) is located in the museum, along with a rather large area that is used for different events.
If you're an AvGeek like me and are in the Seattle area, check out the Boeing Factory and Museum. It will be well worth your time and money, plus it is a great learning experience. But remember…if it's not Boeing, I'm not going.
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