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Old 09-01-2008, 10:19 PM   #1  
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Thumbs up Boeing tour

I went to the Boeing tour today. It had been about 2 years since I last went and boy have things changed. The tour starts at the Future of Flight museum instead of the tiny waiting area/trailer it used to. You can pay for the museum only or the tour and museum. It used to be free for airline personal with ID but today costs $15. I acted surprised and they let me in for the Boeing employee price of $7.50. They really do charge Boeing employees for the tour.

After a short 6 minute movie we got on a bus and were warned for the 4th time that no electronic devices were allowed on the tour. I made sure my contraband cell phone was off. No need to be embarrassed by a phone call in the middle of the tour. Apparently the major reason is they don't want anyone to drop a camera or phone etc. on to the shop floor from the high up observation platforms.

First stop is the assembly bay for the 747 and 777. Our observation platform was directly above an nearly completed 747 for UPS. One of the most striking displays for me is the cross section of an old 747 forward fuselage. It is about 6 inches thick and really drives the point home that the skin of an airliner is really thin. Only about a quarter inch between you and the elements.

An additional stop is new since last time and adds about 25 minutes to the tour. We got to look at the final assemble bay for the 787. There were 4 787s in various stages of final assembly. I was pleased to finally see the wing tips and their graceful shape first hand. I still think it looks a little short but beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.

On the way back to the gift store they drive by the paint hangers and talk about the costs for various planes. $220mil get you a naked 747. $200mil for a 777. Only $145mil for a 787 and about $50 mil for a BBJ. Someone on the bus always yells out, "I'll take two!" I bet that gets pretty old for the tour guides. Speaking of which, our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable even if he did say the airlines take the water out of the cabin atmosphere on purpose to prevent corrosion. Huh?

The museum looks as though it is not quite done. It seemed a little sparse to be honest. There were many computer stations around that let you "design" you own airplane. You get to choose various wings, body, engines paint etc. and see what it looks like. My kid thought it was OK. There are some interesting engine and fuselage displays and some static aircraft hanging from the ceiling. The Beech Starship is hanging up there. A large tail cone made from the composite used in the 787 is there and quite interesting. The composite is thicker than the aluminum I mentioned in the 747 cross section. It is interesting to touch it. The first thing I noticed is that it doesn't feel cold like Aluminum. If feels, well, like plastic. Strong plastic that is.

It is a good tour lasting about 90 minutes. Of course you can spend as long as you want in the museum. Adults cost $15, kids $8. There is a cafe in the museum but we didn't try it. All in all a much more impressive show than the old tour. Definitely worth the effort.

Last edited by mike734; 09-02-2008 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 09-02-2008, 03:39 AM   #2  
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Nice report, thanks for sharing. Sounds like a fun tour of one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the US.
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Old 09-02-2008, 05:32 AM   #3  
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Yes, nice report, Mike. I've lived in the PNW for 30 years, but have never gone on this tour, although I have sent enough family and friends to it that I ought to get a finders fee from Boeing!
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Old 09-02-2008, 05:47 AM   #4  
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Great report. I'd like to get back out there someday and see it again. I took my Dad there in 1986 or 87 for the tour. What I thought was cool, was the enormity of the building, yet it didn't sink-in until you saw a half a dozen 747's all in one room. You could hear rivet guns going, but they seemed (and probably were) like they were 1 mile away in the distance. When I went, they had about 6 B747's in some stage of assembly, including an Air France that was nearing completion:

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Old 09-02-2008, 08:20 AM   #5  
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Originally Posted by Cubdriver View Post
Nice report, thanks for sharing. Sounds like a fun tour of one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the US.
How about THE LARGEST AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURER IN THE US. Airbus isn't building A330s in Mobile yet.
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:04 AM   #6  
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Originally Posted by bravo24 View Post
Airbus isn't building A330s in Mobile yet.
Say it isn't so...I hope that's not the case...What's wrong with this country? Remember when the rivalaries were American-only: Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed...Still think the L-1011 is the most beautiful plane ever built
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:27 AM   #7  
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Great Review. I'm headed to Seattle in two weeks and plan on stopping up there and will add in my buck-o-five to the review.

Nice to hear the price is $15 bucks because the internet booking site tacked on a $2 convenience fee at the end of the tour reservation process. Only place I've heard of advanced / internet booking being more expensive then the door price.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:46 AM   #8  
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Originally Posted by Clue32 View Post
Only place I've heard of advanced / internet booking being more expensive then the door price.
Actually this is becoming more and more common it seems. It would cost me $2 more per ticket if I ordered online supposed to driving down and pay for it over the counter at an improv show here in Dallas. Still can't figure out why though ..
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Old 09-02-2008, 08:07 PM   #9  
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Nice report. I'd like to see it one day. When I went to the museum, there are a few airplanes that are on display that a friend of my grandfathers' had owned and donated. Nice musuem, bet the factory is even better. Thanks!
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Old 09-02-2008, 08:24 PM   #10  
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The Boeing tour should be considered Mecca for all pilots. Everyone should make the pilgrimage there at least once in life.
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