What a ride! This year’s Aviation Geek Fest Seattle was bigger and better than ever.
I have to say that I am very honored by the fact that I get flown around the world to do some pretty amazing aviation-related things, but Aviation Geek Fest has become one of my favorites to look forward to each year. I am just so happy I got to share the experience with 300 AvGeeks!
SATURDAY: PAINE FIELD DAY
For me, the first day (Saturday the 15th) started with a trip to the Museum of Flight Restoration Center where I was able to check out the Boeing SST mockup, a Comet, the first-ever Boeing 727, and a Boeing 247.
I just love the feel of this facility; it is raw. Although there were many cool ongoing projects, the best part was talking to the folks doing the restoration. They love what they do, they have a sense of humor, and they have so much amazing background on the planes.
I wanted to also try and stop by the Flying Heritage Collection and Historic Flight Foundation, but I felt I needed to head over to the HQ for the day (the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour) to make sure everything was prepped for our big day.
After getting everyone checked in and settled, I was able to say a few words to the group and thank everyone for coming. I think it was pretty obvious to most there that I was giddy. There were so many new people I wanted to meet and so many others that I have seen many times before and couldn’t wait to reconnect with. It is no lie that the people are the best part of this event – and that says a lot.
We soon divided into four groups and went to our different tours. Two of the groups headed to the Everett Factory for their VIP floor tour, another headed into the Passenger Experience Research Center (PERC), and my group started with getting close to a 747 Dreamlifter (and no, it was not the one that landed at the wrong airport).
Originally we were planning on getting a tour of the Dreamlifter Operations Center, but that unfortunately fell through. To make up for it, Boeing held a Dreamlifter next to the Future of Flight for us to view from the ground. I think most people were much happier getting up close and personal to the unique aircraft than looking at a cargo facility — at least I was.
Once our wet and cold group reassembled inside, it was our turn to check out the PERC. This is the place where Boeing can get customer feedback (they pull people visiting the Future of Flight and doing the Boeing tour) on potential interiors.
We weren’t told which potential cabin configuration we were looking at, but it was in a 3-4-3 layout and we watched a Boeing 777x video. I surely hope that some of the things we saw in the cabin (and especially the video) will show up in future aircraft.
Next to we were off to the Delivery Center, which was the only place where we could not take photos and didn’t have a Boeing photographer. No worries, we were still able to enjoy the experience just the same.
We were escorted through the front door and taken to the the central events room, which provides sweeping views of the flight line. Then we were taken on the outer balcony and were able to see the flight line up close and personal.
Then it was back on the bus to head on over to the factory for a VIP floor tour.
Before heading on the floor, we received a safety briefing and all were given a head-set and safety glasses. Not the most stylish things in the world, but I like being able to keep my vision and hear the tour.
Unlike the standard public tour, which is up on walkways above the floor, we were on the floor, right next to the airplanes. I ended up spending most of my time talking to others around me about airplanes and what better place to do that than on the factory floor?
After the tour, it was back to the Future of Flight for our social gathering (beer and pizza) and we gave out some great prizes donated by different airlines. Our big thanks to the following companies who donated some sweet prizes (that put LOTS of smiles on faces):
- Alaska Airlines: Two airline tickets to anywhere that they fly
- Air New Zealand: Two large 777-300ER models in the two Hobbit liveries
- Gogo: Lots of great goodies for all the AvGeeks
- Condor Airlines: A bag, models, lanyards, cups and more
- Singapore Airlines: Amenity kit and 777-300ER model
- Future of Flight: Three LARGE (and we mean large) models of the 787-9, 747-8I and 777-300ER
- Qantas Airlines: Some awesome amenity kits
After the event there was a post-AGF social gathering in the Presidential Suite at the Hilton Garden Inn next door, to which about 30-40 AvGeeks showed up for some awesome conversation and we all ran to the windows a few times to see what was taking off. I was asleep by about 1:00am, and ready to hit day two.
SUNDAY: BOEING FIELD DAY
We all headed south to the Museum of Flight, where we would take a tour of the 737 factory and get VIP access to the first-ever Boeing 747 (City of Everett) and the facility’s Lockheed Constellation, both of which are not normally open to the public.
After hanging out in the museum for a while, we were transported, by bus, to the 737 factory, which does not offer public tours. This is a huge thing for Boeing to let us participate in, and what a treat!
When we got back to the Museum of Flight, we were a bit frightened since the weather had gotten pretty bad with some high winds. There was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to go into the first 747 or the Lockheed Constellation, and I almost started crying.
Luckily for us, the weather held out and we had lines of AvGeeks at both aircraft just drooling to get on. My grandfather flew Constellations (for Eastern) and I was happy to be on one since I never had before. Not to get a chance to fly on one… maybe someday.
Although everything during Aviation Geek Fest was amazing, I was most looking forward to getting on the first 747. I had never been on it; what a piece of history.
My excitement ended up distracting me and I didn’t take too many photos. Thanks to King Hui for letting me use some of his awesome 747 pics.
The 747 is in the middle of being restored close to what it looked like during testing. The main deck doesn’t have any seats, since it was mostly empty during testing.
I loved the rawness of the aircraft, where you can still see all the support systems inside, to the aluminum outer-hull. You could literally smell the history (it was a good smell).
The 747 and the whole event was such a thrill, and I think the best Aviation Geek Fest that we have done to date. I was so happy to do all the fun things, but also to meet so many wonderful people, many of whom are avid readers of AirlineReporter.
We have already started talks of what the next Aviation Geek Fest might look like. If you have any feedback/ideas, please leave them in the comments here and we will consider them all (no matter how far out there). A BIG thanks to the fine folks at the Future of Flight, Boeing, and the Museum of Flight (among all the others) for making this happen!
ADDITIONAL AVIATION GEEK FEST STUFF
- Rest of my AGF14 photos on Flickr
- Photos taken by Boeing shared by the Future of Flight
- Mal’s photos of the event
- AGF14 community photos on Flickr
- Learn what happened before during Aviation Geek Fest 2009, 2010, 2012, or 2013