clock May 19, 2010
author Chris Sopa

Flying High….

Today I decided to make my day all about airplanes.  Boeing’s main factory, where they assemble most of their airplanes, sits right in the heart of Seattle.  It was a great day to be inside touring because it was raining and overcast most of the day.  Again, my luck with weather prevails!


So my day started at 9am when I got picked up by Daniel, our tour bus driver and off we went to Boeing.  I shared the Boeing tour with a great group!  Yugi from Taiwan who is a pilot and flies 747’s; Gordon from Glasgow, Scotland; Bill from Aberdeen, Scotland (yes, ANOTHER Aberdeen!); Shane from L.A.;  a nice lady and her son from Austin, TX (they didn’t know you Tina…I asked!  lol!) and a couple from Sydney, Australia.

Me and Daniel

I learned many new things about the city of Seattle from Daniel I did not know:

  • There are guys called “City Ambassadors” that wear yellow jackets and ride bikes all over downtown that help tourists with information and carry maps.  (Wish I would have know that yesterday!)
  • The flagship and original store of Nordstrom’s is downtown.  Did you know at Nordstrom’s you can return ANYTHING at ANYTIME with no receipt???
  • Microsoft headquarters is not too far away in Redmond, WA.  (I should have let Bill know I was coming….Damn!)
  • Seattle has 16 hours of daylight in the summer and less than 8 hours of daylight in the winter. (Explains their obsession with coffee!)
  • If you cross a crosswalk before you get the little “white guy walking” sign, you get a ticket for $80!  (Can’t tell you how many times I did that yesterday…too used to walking in New York I guess…Oooppps!)

Also, today is apparently the 30th anniversary of Mt. St. Helen’s erupting.  When it erupted in 1980, it leveled 150 square miles of trees, killed 57 people and dropped gray ash around the world.  I wonder how many flights got delayed then….????

Mount St. Helen’s

During the Boeing tour, you are not allowed to take cameras, cell phones or anything at all electronic with you.  Bummer man!  THIS WAS ONE OF THE COOLEST TOURS I HAVE EVER BEEN ON!!!  I was so excited about it I even shot a video clip for the tour company after the tour that will be on their website:!  Woo-hoo!

A shot of the factory building…see the 6 blue doors? Those have the digital graphic on them.

A shot inside of Boeing (where we were allowed to take pics of course!)

It was so amazing to watch these HUGE planes being constructed piece by piece!  We saw 747’s, 777’s and the new 787 which looks so cool!   Some facts we learned:

  • Boeing is the biggest building in the world by volume at 472 million cubic feet.
  • The factory is like a small indoor city (30,000 employees) requiring its own fire department, security force, fully equipped medical clinic, electrical substations and water treatment plant.
  • The factory is so big that when it was first built it created its own weather.  Clouds actually formed near the ceiling.  The weather cleared when an air-circulation system was installed.
  • There are 1 million light bulbs in the factory! (A shrine to the Illuminating Company!)
  • 26 overhead cranes cruise along a 39 mile network of ceiling tracks, lifting and moving airplane sections.
  • 1,300 bicycles in the factor help employees get around.
  • The mural on the six factory doors at the entrance of the factory is the largest digital graphic in the world.
  • A 747 jet has 6 million parts!
  • The new 787 jet has only 3 million parts due to the new technology used and takes only 3 days to assemble.
  • Disneyland would fit inside the building with 12 acres to spare.

Overall, I could have spent all day in there watching the planes being assembled.  It literally still amazes me that we can sit in a chair and be 30,000 feet in the air!

I spent most of the tour talking with my new friends from Scotland, Gordon and Bill.  Awesome fellows and they told me all about their country and what to see when I visit!

Gordon, Me and Bill on the observation deck

Gordon and I decided to go to “The Museum of Flight” after the Boeing tour.  It was THE BEST being with Gordon on this tour and at the museum because he worked for British Airways for 30+ years and knew EVERYTHING about planes!  I got an awesome first-hand education as we walked through the museum.

The Museum of Flight

We saw everything from the Sputnik prototype…

Sputnik prototype

All kinds of different planes from throughout the years….

Old U.S. Mail plane

Old Newsboy plane

Museum ceiling shot

Went outside and got to tour the inside of Air Force One (from the Kennedy-era) and 2 other planes…

Air Force One

Inside Air Force One

Read the sign then look at the pic below…

And then decided we wanted to know what it was like to be a pilot and did a “flight simulator” and I was the pilot!  (Scary, I know…those of you who know me and know how I am with directions understand why Gordon and I were upside-down for most of our flight!)

Gordon and I getting ready to “take off”

Gordon and I spent a good 3 hours at the museum and then took the bus back into town and parted ways.  I was so blessed to be able to spend the day with him!  I promised him I would be in Scotland soon and he promised to check out the blog!

I came back to my hotel room, ordered room service and spent some time prepping for my workshop tomorrow.  (Yes, I have to work in the morning…NOOO!)  I am one of those very lucky people who love what I do so much it never, ever seems like work!

Signing off….Sopa out!