Posted by: arbeam | October 3, 2013

Navy League Tour of Boeing and Flying Heritage Collection

Boeing NL TourOn Friday, September 20, 2013 a fortunate group of Navy Leaguers and guests were treated to the rare experience of a VIP tour of the Boeing plant in Everett, WA.  Unlike the public tours which view aircraft construction from a high balcony we actually walked the factory floor and got a real close up look at the process.  And what a process!  At the present time Boeing is simultaneously building 747s, 767s 777s and 787s at Everett.  Parts arrive by rain, truck and air “just in time” to insure no interruption in the production flow.

Boeing's Everett site is approximately 1,000 acres, including 215 acres of paved yards and parking, and 282 acres of building area.

Boeing’s Everett site is approximately 1,000 acres, including 215 acres of paved yards and parking, and 282 acres of building area.

The Boeing factory was built in 1966 and there are presently 40,000 employees working there in 3 shifts.  One of those employees is 90 years old and has 70 years of Boeing service…and has no plans to retire any time soon.  The facility occupies 98 acres and could hold 75 football fields.  Two and one half NASA launch assembly buildings could fit inside, and can, without challenge, claim the title of the world’s biggest building.

We saw inverted fuselage sections where parts were being installed, giant rotating devices to turn them upright, huge overhead cranes which travel on 39 miles of track, small to large parts waiting for installation, including seats that have values of $90,000 to $225,000each, as well as aircraft in various stages of completion.  Amazing details were shared such as that a 747 has nearly 6 million parts, half of them fasteners), but a 777 has “only” 3 million parts due to improved design and construction techniques.  A 747 can carry 64,000gallons of fuel, good for a range of 8,000 miles, but is delivered with only 4,000 gallons on board…it’s up to the buyer to fill the tanks for the first time.  More amazing statistics and details were heard than could be reported here, but one that was a real attention getter is that the engine casing for one engine on a 777 is larger than the diameter of the body of a 737.  And each such engine costs $20-25 million.

Having had this amazing experience will give us all a new appreciation when we see Boeing aircraft in flight.  Thank you to our tour guide and all the people at Boeing for showing us this special place.

Flying Heritage CollectionFollowing the Boeing tour we relocated to Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection of war birds at nearby Paine Field.  The collection includes WW II military aircraft from the US, Germany, Japan, Great Britain and Russia.  There are also tanks and other military items plus displays.  One exception to the WW II period is a very modern MIG 29…which is still flown occasionally.  All of the aircraft , some being the only examples still in existence in the world, can be flown and except for two very rare examples, all are flown from time to time.  Paul Allen does not believe in the “stuffed and mounted” approach in his collection.  Each item has a story posted by it as to individual origin and history, and the excellent presentation by our docent substantially enhanced this information.  A truly neat place that we are fortunate to have so nearby and a great second stop on our tour.  Thank you Paul Allen and everyone at Flying Heritage Collection.

And last, but in no way least, a huge thank you to Byron Faber for setting up both of these tours. – Norman Marten


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