To avoid the freeway (I-5) and get from the airport to the north end of Seattle, I liked to take International Boulevard to East Marginal Way South to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and onto Aurora. On East Marginal Way South, in the middle of a number of Boeing Aircraft facilities including Boeing Field (airport), I saw this museum I just assumed to be the Boeing museum. After that, every time we drove by, I would say, we need to visit that Boeing museum. Linda would just look at me and roll her eyes.
Then a few years ago I managed to arrange to meet my brother there for something fun to do. There turned out to be The Museum of Flight. Linda came along. She actually liked parts of the museum. So this year, when I suggested that I wanted to visit the museum on my birthday, she was all in.
To see everything in the museum (and take pictures of the interesting stuff) takes more than a single visit. The size and number of exhibits and artifacts is staggering. The museum covers the whole history of powered human flight and starts with the Wright Brothers and continues up through the Boeing 787. I find the scale of the museum to be a bit overwhelming. On my first visit, the museum gift shop took nearly an hour to get through. Too much to look at. On this visit, I skipped it, the Red Barn (original Boeing factory) and the Personal Courage Wing.
Next time I go, I think I’ll get a “Return Trip Ticket.” It is an add-on to a regular admission ticket allowing me to come another day at a reduced price. Then maybe I would have a chance to see the exhibits I skipped.
Just like our first visit, we started out in the Great Gallery, an enormous open space with airplanes everywhere – hanging on the rafters, sitting in the balconies and on floors on different levels. A docent greeted me as I entered. He said, the best way to experience all the planes in this space was to go counter clockwise around the space. This way, you go from oldest (Wright Brothers replica) to newest technology. This is pretty much what I ended up doing.
Last time I was in the Great Gallery, I didn’t see fighter jet cockpits that visitors could sit in. Wonderful photo op when you are with your friends.
On the other side of the Great Gallery, in the area where the Aircraft Control Tower exhibit can be found are balconies providing excellent elevated panoramic views of the this magnificent open space.
Linda wasn’t as impressed as I was with the Great Gallery. The part of the museum that she liked the best was the Aviation Pavilion. To get to the pavilion, visitors walk over East Marginal Way South on a foot bridge that drops visitors in front of the Space Gallery. The Aviation Pavilion is accessed through the Space Gallery.
Linda Likes the Aviation Pavilion because visitors can walk through notable aircraft like the Air Force One, Concorde, Boeing 747 and Boeing 787.
Of all of the aircraft she walked through, the Concorde was her favorite and the Boeing 787 was a close second.
The odd thing about about the Concorde is how small the passenger cabin is. The small Regional Jets like the Embraer have comparable leg and hip room. Tickets from New York to London ran in the $8,000 range. Return flights in the $16,000 range. That is a lot of money to pay to save four hours and be uncomfortable to boot. They say time is money. I guess the Concorde proved the point.
I found the Boeing 787 cockpit to be inspiring. It looks like the gauges are nearly all gone now, replaced by computer displays.
I think I need to do better research before going to museums like this as I’ve found that sometimes museums have programs I regret not signing up for in advance. The couple under the Boeing B-29 Superfortress aircraft and between the landing gears are on a private tour of the inside of the plane. They were doing what I’ve been dying to do – get a look at the interior of a WW II bomber. I think seeing the interior will help me connect to and more appreciate the sacrifices airmen made who bravely and proudly served our country.
There is always so much in this world to go, see and do!
Hope to see you on the road ahead!