One of the AGF15 groups on the 747-8 factory floor - Photo: Boeing

One of the AGF15 groups on the 747-8 factory floor – Photo: Boeing

It has been a while since we celebrated Aviation Geek Fest Seattle 2015 back in February, but I am still feeling the excitement. What an amazing two-day AvGeek event that was held here, in Seattle, WA on February 21 and 22.

This year, all 250 “Full” tickets sold out in less than 30 seconds. Less than 30% of the guests were from Washington state and the rest came from around the world. We had AvGeeks from Austria, Denmark, the UK, Dubai, India and, of course, our friends up north from Canada. It was a blast!

- Photo: AvGeek Joe

Paine Field is beyond beautiful – Photo: AvGeek Joe

For those of you not familiar with Aviation Geek Fest Seattle, it is a two-day event, where attendees get to have amazing aviation experiences with VIP access. This was our sixth time doing this, and I think the best one yet.

The AvGeek Social on Saturday night in the Future of Flight - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The AvGeek Social on Saturday night in the Future of Flight – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

SATURDAY

The first day took place up at Paine Field and our home base was the Future of Flight. Although the official events didn’t start until early afternoon, a group of about 50 AvGeeks got together for an AGF15 breakfast and others checked out some of the great aviation-related opportunities in the area. I got to run around a bit making sure that everything was going to happen the way it was supposed to, but in its own way — that was fun!

 

AGFSEA15

After a nice welcoming, we split up into multiple groups. The full ticket holders were able to do everything, just in different order.  This year, we also offered a “mini” ticket at a lower price point, which gave folks access to a  limited number of the events. They got to do some very fun stuff on Sunday, though.

Before taking our tours we all had to turn in our cameras and phones. Of course, we all wished to have devices to share the experience, but there is something to be said about just being able to enjoy something versus looking it at it though a screen.

A Boeing 747-8F taken from the factory floor. This photo wasn't taken during AGF15 (no cameras allowed), but during a previous tour

A Boeing 747-8F taken from the factory floor. This photo wasn’t taken during AGF15 (no cameras allowed), but during a previous tour.

My group (we were each about 50 people) boarded the Boeing bus and we headed out to the east side of the Boeing factory and walked west. Whereas the public tour takes place up above the floor (it is actually a pretty rad tour), ours was VIP, down on the factory floor, walking among the 747-8s, 777s, and of course the 787 Dreamliner.

Taken in February 2011 inside the Boeing Factory, this 777-300ER is the 24th 777 for Qatar.

A Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER taken in February 2011 – Photo: David Parker Brown

It never gets old. I have been lucky enough at this point to have been on the factory floor quite a bit, but each time is just as cool as the time before. Being up so close, seeing the different aircraft, sharing it with a bunch of great people — hard to beat.

The outside of the Everett Delivery Center taken during a previous event in Sept 2013.

The outside of the Everett Delivery Center taken during a previous event in September 2013

Next we headed over to the Everett Delivery Center. This is where many airlines will take delivery of their new aircraft. The facility is relatively new and we had the chance to walk through the inside and then out on the balcony — overlooking the flight line with quite a few 787 Dreamliners all lined up.

View from the central meeting spot of the delivery center, taken during a previous event in Sept 2013.

View from the central meeting spot of the delivery center, taken during a previous event

We loaded back on to our bus and then headed to the north side of Boeing’s operations at Paine Field, where they are in the process of constructing the facility where the new 777-8 and 777-9 will be built. Although not too much to look at (just a skeleton of a new building mostly), it was exciting to see progress happening.

Some of the AirlineReporter team: Bernie, Blaine, David, and Mal - Photo: Philip Debski

Some of the AirlineReporter team: Bernie, Blaine, David, and Mal (L to R) – Photo: Philip Debski

Before finishing our bus tour, we drove by the Dreamlifter Operations Center, which is located right by the Future of Flight. Luckily for us, there was a Dreamlifter there for us to gaze our eyes on.

- Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

That’s me, talking about planes and stuff – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

When we returned to the Future of Flight, we had some time to socialize and get amped up for the AvGeek Social, which took place on the Future of Flight’s gallery floor (and below a Starship).

- Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Capt. Lundy tells the group of AvGeeks about his experiences during the AvGeek Social – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

We started with a guest speaker; Captain Chad Lundy, who is a Boeing test pilot. We all got to learn, first-hand, not only what planes will go through to get their certification, but also about his personal experiences flying Boeing aircraft. Very cool!

- Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The newly released #AvGeek Beer at Aviation Geek Fest – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Checking out all the airplanes built up quite a hunger and thirst. Have no worries, we had a fully-catered dinner and of course we were all able to try the new #AvGeek Hoppy Pale Ale from Airways Brewing (big thanks to them for donating a keg).

- Photo: AvGeek Joe

Photo: AvGeek Joe

Then it was onto the prizes — and holy smokes did we have some prizes. The bad news is it took a bit longer than we wanted, but the good news was that we had tons of awesome prizes. We want to thank the following airlines & companies for their amazing donations:

  • United Airlines for a bunch of their special-edition amenity kit tins that feature their hubs
  • Alaska Airlines for some awesome trinkets and Board Room passes
  • Condor for some airline giveaways and one big blow up 767
  • Flightradar24 for some free premium accounts
  • Hawaiian Airlines for a few great Airbus A330 models
  • Eva Air for some Hello Kitty goodness and 777 models
  • Emirates for a few Boeing 777-300ER models
The big winners of the two Qatar Airways' business class tickets - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Trevor (R) and Jessi (3rd from R) were the winners of the two Qatar Airways business class tickets – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

A HUGE thanks to Qatar Airways for providing AGF15 two business class tickets to anywhere that the airline flies. What an AMAZING gift, and one happy AvGeek couple are excited to make great use out of them.

Things wrapped up, people made their way to their beds, got some rest, and prepared for the second day of Aviation Geek Fest Seattle.

-Photo: King Hui

A great aerial shot of the temporary air park at the Museum of Flight – Photo: King Hui

SUNDAY

After not much sleep (was running on #AirlineAdrenaline), it was time to wake up and have some more aviation goodness. I headed south to the Museum of Flight, but there was another group of AvGeeks that were already into some pretty rad action.

- Photo: SEA Airport

AvGeeks enjoying a Hawaiian Airbus A330 take off from the airport – Photo: SEA Airport

About a group of 30 mini ticket holders were able to take a VIP tour of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Just being driven around, in a bus, stopping to take photos of planes coming and going would have been good enough (the beautiful February day didn’t hurt either), but they also got a special treat, one that made me super jealous.

- Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The group got an unplanned, VIP tour of a brand-new United Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at SEA – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Just by chance, there happened to be a United Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner parked at the airport. The group was invited to take a tour of the interior of the brand-new plane.

Boarding and checking out the flight deck of this United 787-9 - Photos: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Boarding and checking out the flight deck of this United 787-9 – Photos: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

As I toured the third 787 (ZA003) at the museum, I watched via Twitter as others were hanging out on the -9. Not that being on a -8 was too bad, but I just have never been on the longer version before. Pretty exciting.

- Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

AvGeeks check out Alaska Airlines’ maintenance facility at SEA – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Later in the day, another small group of mini ticket holders, this time about 20, was able to take a VIP tour of the Alaska Airlines maintenance facility at SEA. They were able to get up-close-and-personal with a Boeing 737-700 and learn how an airline like Alaska keeps their fleet flying.

Inside the Boeing 737 factory - Photo: Boeing

Inside the Boeing 737 factory – Photo: Boeing

Throughout the afternoon, guests were able to check out the Customer Experience Center and the Boeing 737 Factory. My group started out with some 737s.

The Boeing 737 factory in Renton

The Boeing 737 factory in Renton – Photo: David Parker Brown

Historically, we have been able to tour down both lines of the 737, but at the time of our visit, the second line was in the process of being changed to handle the 737 MAX. Even though that was the case, we still had a great time checking out a few 737s in different phases of being built.

The best part — only having an airline’s livery on the winglets and rudder and having our group being able to easily identify every airline!

- Photo: Future of Flight

Checking out a possible airline interior at the Customer Experience Center – Photo: Future of Flight

Back onto the bus we went and headed on over to the CEC. This is where airlines can get an idea of what their interiors might look like. There are multiple rooms that show off the cabins of planes like the Boeing 777 and 747-8I. When we arrived, we were given a rundown of the building and then told to go do what we wanted.

The looks on the AvGeek’s faces (and mine too, I am sure) was like, “really, we can just go play?” And play we did — if only we had more time!

- Photo: Future of Flight

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner simulator at the CEC – Photo: Future of Flight

LET’S DO IT AGAIN

Think this will be the last event? Hardly!

We have already started discussions on what the next Aviation Geek Fest Seattle will look like. There will be some familiar things and some new things as well. We have heard all your great feedback and we are looking how to make some of your suggestions happen.

Dates for the next event shall be announced in the not-so-distant future. If you are not already, be sure to join the Aviation Geek Fest email list. Any major details of any future events will be shared via that list.

Thanks again everyone showing your love and support for this event. Stay tuned — there will be some more cool stuff coming soon!

The Boeing 787 line, take in Feb 2011 - Photo: David Parker Brown

The Boeing 787 line, taken in February of 2011 – Photo: David Parker Brown

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER – SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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11 Comments
JL Johnson

Love this! I know I say it every year, but I’ll be there next time! 🙂 JL, AirlineReporter

Biggles209

N615AS is a B737-700

Dang it!

I wrote that and told myself that I should double check with the reg#, but then got distracted. Thanks & fixed!

David, AirlineReporter

Great write-up David, much appreciate.

Next year, I think I’ll take a mini. Let others have the factory tour (I’ve had two awesome tours, got really up close w/ a 747 and take in the scale of jetliners from a different perspective than the Future of Flight Strato Deck). I also really liked the idea of a ramp tour of Sea-Tac and of course, exclusive access to the Museum of Flight 787 before the crowds with the low February sun on AGF15 Sunday – https://www.flickr.com/photos/avgeekjoe/sets/72157650571226629/ . As an aviation photographer, having special access to run my camera is really awesome and a fast way to take my money.

Of course, US Navy participation in AGF16 as in AGF15 would be much appreciated. If we’re going to guarantee that and not just get lucky with a VFA squadron coming to Boeing Field – https://www.flickr.com/photos/avgeekjoe/sets/72157648692311954/ – though, a formal request to NAS Whidbey needs to get in early. The base does tours for FREE, lunch is $$ though.

Thanks for the great summary of your ’15 event. I think you’re on to something special, here, and I suspect that the annual event will continue to mature and grow in future years. This is a truly wonderful thing, but please, maintain absolute control in AR.com’s hands. I’ll get there in ’16 if humanly possible. Darn good summary, David and a world-class hosting and production job by all.

Off-the-wall question: Some years ago, Mark something or other, at the time, Boeing’s Chief Test Pilot for the the 747-8(F and i) made a video that included some static simulator 747-8 testing. I think that this video was made well before any ‘real’ 748 simulators hand been built. As I recall, the simulation gear was built into a truck and they ‘flew’ the complete airplane through its paces, long before the prototype left the ground. I’ve searched until I’m crazy, but I’ve been unable to find this promo or archive clip. Does anyone at AR.com or affiliates recall this video? Does anyone have any idea where I might find it? Thanks and I’ll try all possible links. I simply want to see it… Best to all and especially the AVGeek folks. You (we?) are a different breed, but we wear it well.
-Cook

One day I hope to be at one of these I have done the Boeing tour twice once in 1993 and last year. A very cool place Paine field and of course the museum of flight.

Really enjoyed your photos and commentary. The 777X and Max should be on deck next time.

Snehal Jardosh

Hi David, It would be a treat of a lifetime to be at the ‘Aviation Geek Fest ’15’. As for the dates, Feb 21st happens to be my 50th birthday. What is better than being in arms way of seeing a 747-8 in production assembly at Boeing or a 787-9. Please inform me of my possibilities in being the few whose dream is to join the group.

Thanking you,

Snehal Jardosh

Kevin Randolph

Is there a link to a video of the featured speaker on Saturday night? I missed some of his talk.

Hey Kevin,

As far as I know, there is no video of the presentation.

David | AirlineReporter

Kevin Randolph

David,

Thanks for the reply.

Would you happen to have his name and email address?

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