December 2014 – Boeing, Seattle and Museum of Flight

Whether an aviation fanatic or not, anyone visiting Seattle should make time for the Boeing Museum of Flight. The museum is a Smithsonian quality place with new exhibits arriving constantly and the collection is impressive covering aviation from the days of handmade wood and fabric airplanes through the space shuttle and everything in between.

We visited it for a special reason – a new 787 Dream Liner, the first commercial airplane built out of carbon-fiber. One of the first 787s built is now parked outside the main entrance to the museum. Since Sonia works on the 787 project at Boeing we had to see it and besides, it’s been a few years since we had visited the museum. The place was crowded with many visitors from the nearby Boeing manufacturing plant coming to see their handiwork (the 787 Dream Liner), but we took time to re-visit the rest of the museum too.

Part of the original Boeing plant is preserved here and open to tour – the old Red Barn where the first wood and fabric Boeing airplanes were made. Propellers were masterfully carved out of wood and leather fitted to the interiors. The planes made here were works of art.

On to the World War I displays where exquisite airplanes with two, even three wings are displayed from the U.S., France, Germany, Italy and Russia. The displays are outstanding and the airplanes appear so fragile it’s amazing they flew, even more amazing that they fought each other. But warplanes or not, they were all works of art that you could just admire for their craftsmanship if nothing else.

On to the World War II displays where it’s fascinating to see how far airplanes had advanced in the short twenty years between WWI and WWII. Here the planes are sleek, powerful looking machines but still beautiful in their shape and style. As a bonus I spied a vintage WWII B-29 bomber parked outside and wrapped in plastic like a mummy awaiting unveiling, it’s iconic form obvious even through the plastic wrap.

The weather was too rainy and cold to walk around the outdoors displays where a Concorde supersonic airliner and President Kennedy’s Air Force One are displayed. And we didn’t have time for the section of displays showing the evolution of flight from the first days of wood and fabric through space travel. But we did visit the new indoor display of the space shuttle which we hadn’t seen before. It was worth the time to walk through the body of the space shuttle displayed there and see how the space missions were managed from it.

So, if you get to Seattle, don’t miss a visit to Boeing’s Museum of Flight. You’ll be glad you did.

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