Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fly Us To the Moon!

Betsy and I are big fans of factory tours.  Whether it is getting a look at how motorhomes are put together, guitars are strung, or the frying of potato chips (especially when there are free samples).  So when the motorhome was in the shop, we had an afternoon to play and headed over to the Boeing Corporation plant in Everett, Washington. 

Flying jumbo jets are a marvel that amazes me every time I walk into one with a ticket and suitcase in hand.  So it was really amazing to stand on a balcony overlooking the 470+ million square-foot assembly line that builds these flying tanks.  The total Boeing facility takes up nearly 100 acres and is the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America.  The 90-minute tour gives you an insider look at the makings of the 747, 767, 777, and the new 787 Dreamliner.
The plant came to being in 1966 when Boeing announced it would build the 747, a jetliner capable of carrying nearly twice as many passengers as previous models.  But the giant jet would need a new construction facility and so the Everett plant and the largest building in the world was born.  The building is so big that it did not have a ventilation system and would generate its own weather inside and form rain clouds.  That problem was soon fixed.

photo courtesy Boeing Corp
photo courtesy Boeing Corp
The tour begins with a brief movie on the history of Boeing and the Everett plant.  From there, you board buses that shuttle you to the hangers.  There are no cell phone or cameras allowed on the tour and the security team is there to enforce the rules so some of the pictures are courtesy of Boeing. 

photo courtesy Boeing Corp
The shuttle drops you off at the massive hanger and you make your way through the half mile stretch of a basement tunnel where a freight elevator is waiting to take you up three stories to get a birds’ eye view of the assembly.  Needless to say, the plant is massive and the employees on the floor look like little worker ants scurrying around-a total of 40,000 employees that work here.

photo courtesy Boeing Corp
Most planes are built from the ground up but the remarkable Dreamliner is put together in three sections.  The three sections are completely assembled overseas and flown back to the U.S. in the Dreamlifter.  The sections are connected, wings are slapped on and that baby is ready to fly.  

So glad my idea of a Dreamliner is the motorhome and the hassle of flying is not in the cards.  And my dreamliner didn't cost $280 million.

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