One of my goals is to visit as many space museums and launch centers that I can around the United States and worldwide. It’s just a passion of mine, and a great motivation and inspiration for my writing.
I lived north of Everett, Washington for many years and never realized what an impact the Boeing company had on our state, our nation, and on air and space travel. In April I visited the Future of Flight & Boeing Tour in Mukilteo. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I knew they made airplanes. I knew that it was one of the main employers in the area.
What I did not expect was just how fascinating the history of the company is, and just how immense the Boeing campus is today. Unless you see and experience it in person yourself, it really is hard to imagine.
Last year was Boeing’s 100 year celebration! July 15, 1916 two men started a company because they believed they could build a better airplane. William E. Boeing and his friend talked the pilot of a small propeller plane (a one-seater) to allow them to hang on to the wings while the plane took off and flew around the Seattle area. They were thereafter addicted to air flight and decided to learn more about building airplanes.
I highly recommend the Boeing Tour to anyone interested in air or space travel or engineering, or just interested in a mind-blowing experience.
The buildings where the 700 series airplanes are built are absolutely huge. After taking a bus to the buildings, we walked through underground tunnels and then took a cargo lift up to a viewing area that looked over the whole building. The main building is the largest building in the world, by volume. It is incredible to be up above the thousands of workers putting together the airplanes. You can watch as around TEN huge airplanes are being built. Can you imagine? A building that can hold that many 747 or 767 planes!
You can look across this field of partially-built planes, tools, and scaffolding and see several stories of windows that show offices, restaurants and coffee shops. I think they said there are three restaurants and ten coffee shops inside the building for the employees. And of course fourteen ping pong tables that are scattered around the area. Boeing is big on the importance of their hard-working employees getting exercise and taking breaks from the intense concentration that is needed to build these computerized flying machines.
A lesser known fact is that Boeing built the 16 ton Destiny Module (I’m standing in front of a model of it in the picture above), which is the American research laboratory now part of the International Space Station. It was launched to the ISS in 2001 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
These are the places and things that you can experience today that years ago were only an interesting storyline in a science fiction novel. This is why I love science and science fiction and why I am passionate about teens and people of all ages learning more science and working toward a future in space. We are living in a rapidly evolving technological world, and we need more dreamers and innovators like William E. Boeing.