Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

North to Alaska - Live!

by Kathy 9. June 2011 09:24

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Washington: Boeing Factory


Our travels often involve flying, and we sometimes take for granted the incredible machines that lift us into the air and transport us high above the earth, depositing us on the other side of the world in less than a day. Yes, we knew the 747 was "big", but we really didn't understand the differences between the plane models and how they were constructed--until today.

Just north of Seattle, Washington, we took a tour of the Boeing factory that produces some of the largest commercial airplanes in the world.  Our tour began at the Future of Flight Aviation Center.

The factory is located in the world’s largest building by volume, pictured below:

Although it may not look that big from a distance, the building is 11 stories high (going underground), with 472 million cubic feet. For sports fans, that’s big enough to hold 75 football fields. For Mickey Mouse fans, you could put the world of Disneyland inside and still have 12 acres left over for parking.

A closer look at the building:

Cameras were prohibited on the tour. Indeed, nothing could be carried in our hands. It was a top-secret affair, with no backpacks, cell phones, purses, notebooks, pens, papers, or anything else allowed inside other than the clothing we wore on our bodies.

On our tour, we first saw where the massive 747’s were being created, bit by bit on a snail-paced assembly line. Then we moved on to a different part of the building, where one side of our viewing platform overlooked 777’s in various states of completion, and the other side had the latest and greatest airplane—the 787.

The 787 is called the “Dreamliner.”  Boeing expects to release it into the public commercial world later this year.  In this world where "bigger" is often viewed as "better," the Dreamliner bucks that trend by being smaller--in fact, it is much smaller than the 747.  However, it uses innovative technology throughout. For example, the body is made with composite materials, including a shell from reinforced carbon fiber. This makes it lighter and more fuel efficient—able to travel 9000 miles without stopping.   For passengers, the stronger shell allows the windows to be bigger and the cabin air to be pressurized at a more comfortable level.  In addition, there is supposedly more leg-room for passengers and greater space for carry-on luggage. 

The parts for the 787 are fabricated off-site, and the giant pieces are then flown to the Boeing factory in a bubble-bodied plane called the “Dream Lifter”:

The tail section of the Dream Lifter opens like a huge hinged door, so the Dreamliner sections can be easily unloaded.

Unlike the 747, which takes about 4 months to be created within the factory, all of the pre-fabricated parts of the Dreamliner can be assembled in (drum roll, please) a mere 3 days!

After our tour, we explored the exhibits within the Future of Flight Aviation Center.

Standing in front of one of the powerful jet engines definitely gave perspective on size:

An old cockpit, with hundreds of levers and buttons, provided the stage for Genevieve and Sebastian to be "pilots":

The displays allowed the children's imaginations to soar.  “Run for your life! We’re going to be flattened by an airplane!”

Genevieve, on the observation deck:

It was fascinating to see the history of how the planes and technology have developed, and how the sections of a jumbo jet are pieced together.  And, more important, we now have a greater understanding of the different types of planes that carry us on many of our adventures.

And we look forward to one day riding on a Dreamliner . . . to another dream destination.

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Comments (5) -

6/9/2011 11:54:55 AM #

Matthew Mikulsky


We'd like to let you know, we love your blog and thank you for sharing your experience. We've attached it to our facebook page, so we can share it with our followers. Travel safe.

Matthew Mikulsky United States | Reply

6/9/2011 12:07:49 PM #


Thanks, Matthew!  We really enjoyed our top-notch tour, and we're happy to be able to share it with others.
Kathy, Ben, Genevieve and Sebastian

Kathy United States | Reply

6/9/2011 2:12:26 PM #

Tedd Dunham

I hope you have some Johnny Horton songs with you! Have fun!

Tedd Dunham United States | Reply

6/9/2011 7:12:41 PM #

Donnie W. Jennings

Hi Kathy!

Posting from the road!  It takes some time but it allows your readers to comment in real time and you don't have to worry about doing the report when you return home and have a ton of other stuff to catch up on.  I will be headed your way June 18, I hope we cross paths.  I would really like to meet you and your family!


Donnie W. Jennings United States | Reply

7/16/2014 7:17:59 AM #

See here

I have a powerful respect for your writing and advice.

See here United States | Reply

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
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   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
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   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
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   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
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   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
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   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
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   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
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   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
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   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
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   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
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   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
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   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
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   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
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   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
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   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
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   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
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   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
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   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
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   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
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   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
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   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
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   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
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   Salt Lake City, UT
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   Silverton, CO
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   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin