Day 25 - Monday 3rd October
Didn't have to worry about rising early today. Today is the tour of the Boeing Factory and only had to be ready by about 9.30am for the bus pick up. Well 9.30am came around and a small bus turned up with 3 other passengers from other hotels. We then picked up another 3 people and then headed out towards Everett. This is a different air field to the one I passed on the evening that I arrived in Seattle which had the two 787's parked on the tarmac.
As we drove out towards Everett the bus driver gave us some history of Boeing and the Seattle area. I didn't realise that Boeing actually manufactured engines (Pratt & Whitney) and also had their own airline (United) before a government anti-trust type of case caused their separation. Seattle is also very dependent on Boeing for employment some 75,000 in Washington state alone. So when Boeing sneezed, Seattle caught a cold. This has changed over recent years with Microsoft. He went through a lot more than what I've just rambled on about but I don't want to send you to sleep.
After we got to the Boeing plant, the largest building by volume in the world, we got off the bus and went to where the start of the tour at Boeing's museum of flight. As no video or photo cameras are allowed we had to check in phones and anything else we had on us to lockers and a short time after we were on a bus going over to the "big" building. We got off, walked down some stairs then along a large tunnel underneath the production line I would say for 200-300 metres. We then caught a large elevator up to a viewing platform and we had the chance to look out over a production line for 747 cargo plane. Even though it looked like nothing was happening you could hear riveting taking place, hammering etc. That view across was spectacular and as all guys are engineers (they are nodding as they read this), it is like the Mecca of Mecca. For you ladies, imagine it as a production line of your favourite shoes being hand crafted by the gentlemen of "The Thunder from Down Under".
Once we finished there, it was down the elevator and back up to the car park where we got the bus to another section of the plant. This next section was for the 777 and 787. Again we went down underneath the building for a walk then up an elevator. The first line we visited was the 777. This production line was different. It actually moves at 4.6 cm per minute. This way they have been able to save on the amount of space it takes to build the 777. Again didn't look like anything was happening but here we had planes (or shoes) being built.
We then walked across to the other side of the viewing platform and we were able to watch the 787 being assembled. On the side of the planes they say which airline it's for and one of them was for Ethiopian Airlines. Gees, so that is where our aid is going to. The 787 is not that big really. To me it looked similar to that of a 737, but the big difference is the materials being used. Rather than using aluminium, a lot of composite material such as kevlar and other plastics. The lighter materials equating to light plane and better fuel efficiency. Some of the other nice features include better pressurisation of the cabin leading to reduced jetlag, larger windows and the ability for the plane to change lighting conditions depending on where you are going so that your body experiences day, evening, night, morning etc.
So we finished up there, back onto the elevator, the short walk back to the bus and the tour was over. We got dropped back at the gift store and only had a short time to look around the museum before boarding the bus for the return trip back into Seattle. This tour was certainly worth while and it comes highly recommended.
Got back into Seattle and was dropped off around the Pike Street Market. I grabbed some lunch on the way back to the hotel and chilled there for a while. Later on in the evening I decided to head out again to get some shots at night. A little bit of drizzle around but not requiring an umbrella. Reminded me of the UK.
For dinner, I dropped into a Thai restaurant and had some satay skewers and a ginger chicken dish. Very nice and very filling and a nice way to finish the evening. Got back to the hotel and packed for the early morning departure to Vancouver.