Renton Municipal Airport, home of the Boeing 737
In the past, we have featured plane spotting guides for Paine Field and also other airports like Anchorage or Tokyo Haneda. With numerous airports in the Seattle area, including SeaTac and Boeing Field, there is sometimes a forgotten, but quite important, airport for plane spotters which provides a continuous stream of aircraft to spot. I am speaking of Renton Municipal Airport, the home of Boeing’s narrow-body aircraft plant.
The southern threshold of Renton’s runway
The Renton Airport traces its history back to World War II. Originally built on reclaimed land from Lake Washington, the airport was built by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support Amphibious Aircraft being built by Boeing on Lake Washington. The PBB Sea Ranger project was cancelled after the prototype was built, so Boeing ended up using the facility to produce the B-29 Superfortress. By the end of the war, a total of 1,119 were built.
After the war, the City of Renton purchased the airport back from the DoD for $1 and the facility laid dormant for a few years. In 1948, the KC-97 Stratofreighter project brought the airport back to life and thus began a long and productive history of aircraft to flow out of the Boeing factory doors. The first Dash 80 aircraft, famous for the barrel roll over Lake Washington, rolled out in May 1954. Renton was the home of every single 707 built.
The 727 & 757 were all built there as well. However, Renton is famous these days for being the home of the 737, where production stands at a massive 42 aircraft per month. Continue reading Aviation in Seattle: Renton Plane Spotting Guide
The HFF DC3 – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett, WA is home to a variety of both modern and vintage aircraft. Though brand spanking new Boeing planes are built there and delivered to around the world, the vintage aircraft hopefully come to stay around for a while.
At the Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) there are some glorious classic aircraft that have been painstakingly restored and are much loved by not only their owner, but also the volunteers who look after them. One such recent arrival joining the collection is a beautifully restored Douglas DC-3, in Pan American Airways [PanAm] livery, that has a checkered past. I was recently invited to check out the aircraft and was able to learn a bit more about its history.
Continue reading An Inside Look at a Restored Douglas DC-3 at Historic Flight
Downtown Seattle Skyline Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.
As a newly transplanted Australian to the Pacific Northwest, I sometimes feel that I am a tourist in my own city. David has lived here quite a while, so to him, this is his backyard. But to me, this is all new, though I have visited a few times; I am still constantly exploring this city. With Aviation Geek Fest approaching, I am sure there are other people who are visiting and wondering what other non AvGeek things can be seen in Seattle.
Seattle has so many different things to see & do that the possibility is endless, but if you are in town for just a few days, well these sights should be on your “must do” list. If you live in the area or have visited and have other ideas, be sure to share them in the comments.
- Pike Place Market– The quintessential experience in Seattle. The longest operating Farmers Market in the USA, home to fresh fruit & veggies, fresh seafood and anything your heart could desire. The Market contains the “Pike Place Seafood Market” home of the flying fish and make sure to take a walk downstairs to the Market Theater Gum Wall, shove on a piece of gum — just don’t touch. If you are looking for souvenirs to bring home, you will have no problem finding something.
Pikes Place Market in Downtown Seattle is one of the most iconic places to visit Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.
- Coffee, need more Coffee – Seattle is home to a number of coffee companies but I am sure you have all heard of this small company with just a number of shops around the country. They call themselves Starbucks. Their first ever store (well not really the first but that is a whole other story) is located down in the Pikes Place Market area. Not only can you line up to buy a cup of their coffee (and sometimes that line is looooong) they also sell merchandise that is not available anywhere else.
- Seattle Center– This is easy to find since it is the home to that weird looking pointy thing, the Seattle Space Needle. Built for the world’s fair in 1962, the Space Needle and the surrounding area is a big draw card for tourists. The Space Needle will set you back around $20 to get up to the observation deck, but remember what Seattle’s weather is known for — not seeing very far. One way to cut back on the fee is to have a meal in the restaurant (Sky City Restaurant) at the top (or check out tip #5). Also in the area are the Pacific Science Center and the Experience Music Project & Sci Fi Museum (EMP). The EMP building alone is worth a visit just to see this spectacle from the outside (see photo below).
Experience Music Project/Sci Fi Museum is an eclectic looking building Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.
- Ride the Seattle Monorail- The nation’s first commercial monorail, at $2 a ride, is a pretty good way of going from Seattle Center to the downtown area. Still running the very retro styled monorail cars, this is a good flash back. The ride takes barely 2 minutes and is a great way to skirt above the streets.
The Nations oldest Commercial Monorail, marked 50 years of service in 2012! Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.
- Columbia Center Tower – Located on the Corner of Columbia Street & 5th Ave, the Columbia Center is the Pacific Northwest’s tallest building. It towers over the Space Needle and dominates the skyline on a clear day. There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor that has views over the city that will astound you. They don’t go 360 degrees like the space needle, but the entry is only $9 per person! What is even better, if you are there mid-week (Monday to Friday), there is a Starbucks on the 40thfloor with views almost as good for free.
View of Seattle from the Columbia Center Tower Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.
- Take a flight seeing tour around Seattle – Kenmore Air and Rainier Flight offer aircraft tours of the city and with Seattle HeliTours you can go in a helicopter. What better way to see Seattle than from the sky? As an AvGeek it should come as no surprise that these might be some of the best touristic options in Seattle. But to make it even better, why not do it on-board a Seaplane taking off from South Lake Union, right next to downtown, with Kenmore.
- Ride a Ferry – If you like planes, you might also like boats. For a few bucks, you can walk on to a ferry in downtown Seattle and enjoy the ride. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, head north to Anacortes, WA to catch the ferry up to the San Juan Islands.
No matter what you want to see, or what you enjoy doing, you are sure to be able to find it in Seattle. There are so many more things to do, please share some of your favorites in the comments.
||This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos
Boeing 787 Flying over Seattle, WA
Benet Wilson, who writes for Aviation Week and has her own blog Aviation Queen, is out of town and asked me to write up a guest blog. I decided to write on something important to me: Aviation in Seattle.
I give a little synopsis of all the great things that aviation loves can do, when visiting (or living in Seattle). Click here to check it out.