This really is off the beaten track but really worth the effort. Between SeaTac Airport and downtown Seattle running alongside the Interstate 5 is Boeing Field. It is an airport just for new Boeing aircraft and it’s customers. There is a museum of flight there built next to the Red Hut which is where it all started over 100 years ago. We visited the museum many years ago and we remember it well because we got to board the Boeing 707 Air Force One of Richard Nixon. Today there is an Apollo exhibit and a British Airways Concord to see.
Travel 25 miles north along the coast and Boeing has it’s factory there. By volume it is the world’s largest building. The air field is a commercial working airport and the factory lies behind it. There is ample parking and grassy banks to watch the runway activity if you are not going to do the tour. I think that they get a lot of visitors just to watch the new born aircraft take their first flights.
Absolutely no cameras, phones or anything that can record is allowed on the tour but in typical American fashion there are plenty of FREE lockers to put your items into for the duration of the tour.
Tip: Remember your locker number and the code you used to set it. I didn’t even think about it so I was lucky Zoe, my daughter was with me.
Along with the tour is a Future of Flight exhibit which is included with your tour ticket. We arrived early enough to join the next tour so put our electronics into the locker and joined the line. You are ushered into a movie theatre for a short presentation on the history and future of Boeing and then split into two groups. Each group is then bussed behind the runway onto Boeing’s land and the enormous factory building. There is a road bridge that goes over the public road and apparently planes are taken from the factory to the runway over it mainly at night because it is a bit of a distraction to traffic. The barriers are removed to allow the wing span of the new airplane to straddle the road. It must be quite a sight.
The tour guide is very informative and most of them were in service with Boeing or airlines so they know their stuff. The group is taken underneath the factory into a huge corridor to a service lift that takes you to the first viewing gallery. The sight that greets you is just spectacular. Boeing 747’s in different stages of their production cycle. The wing tip are missing because there isn’t room to put them on but there were three Jumbos nose to tail inside the factory. One was having it’s seating added and the crates of new seats were pointed out. There wasn’t a lot of activity to describe to be honest but planes have a green coating applied to them to keep them from getting damaged.
From the left side of the plant to the right hand side via another lift and coach ride….that is how big this place is! We got to see 737s and 737 Max being worked on. Finally we saw the production of the Dreamliner. On the wall was the shield of all the airlines that have Dreamliner in their fleet. Along the top of each doorway of the plane was the running serial number of the Dreamliner.
When we got back outside we shown across the entrance road another facility that was the paint shop. Outside of this were various planes at different stages of their development. Some of the logos were recognisable and others weren’t. Apparently pilots of the receiving airlines are given enough fuel to take them from Everett into Boeing Field. At Boeing Field they are then the responsibility of the airline.
After the tour bus dropped us back at the airfield side we entered the official store. There was the usual tourist products but there were some really novel items and it wasn’t too badly priced.
We stopped for a snack in the café and then went downstairs to the Future of Flight Exhibit which was really interesting and many interactive levers and pulleys to have a go at. I stood at the base of a 747 tail which was much bigger up close than you imagine.
Don’t miss out on taking the lift to the observation deck over the runway. There are excellent views over the runway. It wasn’t a busy day when we were there but I bet some of you have been lucky enough to see newly acquired planes taking off for there long life of service.
As we were leaving a 747 was revving up at the very end of the runway so of course we thought our luck was in. The noise was horrendous and excitement built as the revving got stronger……….and then it moved…….and went about 500 yards if that and turned off the runway into a nursery of other planes. Oh well.
Tip: Book online if you can. Cost is $25 per person and spaces are limited on each time slot.