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

Hello,

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.

www.facebook.com/futureofflight

Matthew Mikulsky United States | Reply

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

Kathy

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

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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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