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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM (IST)

Plane talk that fascinates

Home to many historic planes, Seattle’s Museum of Flight spills over with excitement

Rameshinder Singh Sandhu

Inundated is the world with many aviation fans and museums dedicated to aviation but when these fans are at the Museum of Flight in Seattle; their curiosity soars like never before. Located right on the Boeing field where action never goes off to sleep with planes being tested through landings and takes offs one after the other, the museum not only rolls out many historic chapters on flying but also introduces visitors to several historic passenger planes from inside.

Each one of them with a unique story, the collection interestingly also includes the retired Air Force One which was once used by former US Presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon for various official tours and missions and later also by vice-presidents and many VVIP’s. One gets so engaged while taking note of its large conference room (in the plane’s centre) known as the ‘flying oval office’ where many major meetings took place and decisions took birth. While in the front is its communication centre, in the back are different cabins for press and president’s staff followed by food and beverage galleries.

Then meeting its neighbour — the first Boeing 747 that brought revolution in the airline industry leaves every visitor inspired. Credits to its Seattle-born lead engineer Joseph F. Sutter, who often visited the Boeing plant during his childhood with his elders and he knew when he grows up, he would love to design planes. Chasing his dreams, in 1946, he finally joined Boeing, and 20 years later headed the 747 project and considering his dedication for it, he was given the title of ‘Father of 747’ and this 747 made its first flight from New York to London on January 22, 1970.

Exploring the retired Concorde of British Airways, known for its crashing speed that crossed Atlantic in just three and a half hours from London, is equally interesting. First flown on April 27, 1978, and in museum since 2003, one can easily fall in love with its design, especially its nose and wings. It is also one of the most photographed planes here.

Coming to the latest passenger plane here, it’s the Boeing 787 — commonly known as the ‘Dreamliner’ but what makes it unique that while Boeing wanted to launch ‘Dreamliner’ planes in December 2011, this was used for world tour for its promotion. The tour made 40 stops in 23 countries and travelled a total of 1,31,000 nautical miles (2,44,153 km). Half of it is with seats and half without seats to prove its spaciousness and it was also used for exhibitions during its tour.  And, such stories continue in many other planes here that even date back to early 1900s, and even those that were used in First World War  and Second World War. The old Boeing factory plant still preserved in its wooden charm and connected to the museum is also worth exploring. 

The best spot to catch action on the Boeing field is to watch it from museum’s air control tower as it offers the best views. If you want more, what better than taking the live Boeing factory tour in nearby Everett where inside the world’s largest building (472 million cubic feet by volume), one can witness several passenger planes ordered by airlines from across the world in various stages of assembly. The tours given in groups are offered from one floor above the factory floor and it’s interesting to see how cranes are picking up different plane parts and connecting them together, followed by how they are painted and lot more that keep the visitors awestruck!

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