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Experiencing the Amazing Aviation Geek Fest 2014

A group of AvGeeks in front of a Boeing 747-8I - Photo: The Boeing Company

A group of AvGeeks in front of a Boeing 747-8I – Photo: The Boeing Company

What a ride! This year’s Aviation Geek Fest 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!

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Boeing SST Mock up in the Museum of Flight Restoration Center

Boeing SST mockup in the Museum of Flight Restoration Center

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.

BONUS: An Inside Look How the Museum of Flight Restores Their Aircraft

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.

Continue reading Experiencing the Amazing Aviation Geek Fest 2014

UPDATED: Details for Aviation Geek Fest 2014

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This story was originally posted on Jan 12, 2014 and re-posted with updated details on Feb 12, 2014. 

Unite AvGeeks! This weekend is it – Aviation Geek Fest 2014 – and to say that we are excited is an understatement. Personally this will be my fifth AGF and I am more excited about this one versus any of the others (and the others were awesome).

A HUGE thanks to Sandy Ward & Toni Olson at the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour for organizing most of these great activities. 

I wanted to share all the newest updates to help you prepare for the weekend.

Continue reading UPDATED: Details for Aviation Geek Fest 2014

Aviation Geek Fest 2013: Photos and Story

One of three Aviation Geek Fest groups that toured the Boeing Factory Floor. Photo by Boeing.

One of three Aviation Geek Fest groups that toured the Boeing Factory Floor. Photo by Boeing.

This weekend was amazing. Almost  200 people attended Aviation Geek Fest 2013 in Seattle this year — it was bigger and better than ever.

Many attendees came from the Seattle area, but we are quite a few who came from out of state: Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, New York, Texas, North Carolina, Nevada, Montana, Hawaii, Massachusetts and California.

The group was also international. There were a few folks from Canada (British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) and a father and son came all the way from Oslo Norway for the event. This has truly turned into a world event and it makes sense since Seattle is a major hub for aviation lovers. Awesome.

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The point of the event is to bring aviation lovers (or AvGeeks) together to celebrate our passion and do some pretty cool things together.

We all got to check out the new space exhibits, including the Space Shuttle trainer at the Museum of Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

We all got to check out the new space exhibits, including the Space Shuttle trainer at the Museum of Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

This was the first year where the event was two days. Saturday, the 16th, took place down south at Boeing Field and Sunday took place up north at Paine Field. Starting at 9am, AvGeeks were able to enter the Museum of Flight and start their aviation adventure.

Our group had own room up on the top floor, overlooking the runway with free coffee, tea and water — all of which was needed to keep up during the day. The 737 tour was not until, noon, which gave people plenty of time to check out the Museum of Flight.

There was a model show going on at the Museum of Flight.

There was a model show going on at the Museum of Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

I spent the morning up at #AGF13 HQ (the room at the Museum of Flight) talking aviation and airlines with all the AvGeeks that showed up. At about noon, it was time for us to prepare to get on the three buses to be taken to the Renton 737 Factory. The only down side to the tour is we were not allowed to take any of our own photos. Luckily, Boeing agreed to take some photos for us and share them.

On the ride over to the 737 factory, I Tweeted out a photo of the AvGeeks on my bus and was told they looked sad. This was because I just got done telling them, “no phones and no cameras,” then took the photo. Right after, I also explained that everyone was getting a free $20 gift card to The Boeing Store — that is when I should have taken the photo — oops.

One of the AGF13 groups inside the Renton 737 Factory. Photo by Boeing.

One of the AGF13 groups inside the Renton 737 Factory. Photo by Boeing.

Our 737 tour started with a few short videos highlighting the 737 and of course the new MAX. This tour was super VIP, since it is not open to the public and they stated that this was the largest group that have toured the facility. We were broken into four groups and taken down both of the 737 lines. Since it was Saturday, the line was not moving, but we all enjoyed figuring out the airlines that the 737s belonged to by the liveries on their rudders and winglets. Not too surprising, there was not one livery that could stump our group.

The world's first fighter plane: the Caproni Ca.20 at the Museum of Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

The world’s first fighter plane: the Caproni Ca.20 at the Museum of Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

After the tour, it was back on the buses and we headed back to the Museum of Flight. I hadn’t been in a few years, so I took about two hours quickly going through their new shuttle trainer and checking out old friends (Concorde, first Boeing 747, Constellation, among others) in the Air Park. The museum closed at 5pm, but we were given a special after hours tour of the Personal Courage Wing, which shows off aircraft and memorabilia from World War I and II.

By the time our tour was done at 6:30pm I was quite tired. Really we only had one scheduled event: the 737 tour, but everyone was kept busy the entire day. It was a great day, but I was excited for the next.

Upon arriving at the Future of Flight, we were greeted by a few Boeing 777's viewed from the Stratodeck. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

Upon arriving at the Future of Flight, we were greeted by a few Boeing 777′s viewed from the Strato Deck. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

I was up earlier than I normally am during the weekend, but I didn’t even need coffee right away, I had AvGeek adrenaline in my blood. Shortly after arriving at the Future of Flight, we were treated with a few Boeing 777 test flights, viewed from the strato deck. Like down south, we had our own AGF13 room with coffee to fuel us through the day.

Getting ready to head to the Dreamliner Gallery, AvGeeks hang out at the Future of Flight.

Getting ready to head to the Dreamliner Gallery, AvGeeks hang out at the Future of Flight. Image from AirlineReporter.com

Throughout the day, AvGeeks had the ability to check out the Future of Flight, Historic Flight Foundation and the Flying Heritage Collection free of charge. Although I wasn’t able to do everything, it was fun watching the #AGF13 hashtag on Twitter to see what everyone else was up to. I was hoping to get over to also see the Flying Heritage Collection and the Museum of Flight Restoration Center, but I just ran out of time — next year I promise.

Our Boeing Factory floor tour was set at 3pm. Before hand, at 10am, 11:30am and finally at 1pm, there were separate tours to the Dreamliner Gallery.

Restored Pan Am DC-3 at Historic Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

Restored Pan Am DC-3 at Historic Flight. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

My tour wasn’t until 1pm, but I was once again enjoying talking with the other AvGeeks who were hanging out at the Future of Flight. At about noon a group of us saw via social media that the DC-3 at Historic Flight Foundation was open and very quickly, we were all piled into a car and headed over. I don’t think I have seen a group of AvGeeks move so fast.

I have seen the outside of the plane before, but never the inside — she is a beauty. Historic Flight is hoping to offer rides to paying passengers later in the year (hopefully more on that in a future story).

Our group got to check out the Dreamliner Gallery. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

Our group got to check out the Dreamliner Gallery. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

After grabbing a quick lunch, we hurried back to the Future of Flight to catch our bus to the Dreamliner Gallery. The gallery is the place where airlines go to design the interiors of their 787′s. This is the first facility like this in the world that allows customers to figure out so many options at one place, greatly reducing the time and money spent to prepare a new aircraft to join their fleet.

Checking out the different seating options of the Dreamliner. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

Checking out the different seating options of the Dreamliner. Image by AirlineReporter.com.

Like the 737 factory, the Dreamliner Gallery is not normally open to the public. We went room-to-room looking at seats, lighting, galley options, lavatories and even crew rest areas. None of us wanted to leave, but we were excited to take our Boeing Factory floor tour. We boarded our bus again and headed back to the Future of Flight for a short video before getting on another set of buses to be taken to the factory.

Three of the buses got a water canon salute. Photo by Snohomish County Airport Fire Dept.

Three of the buses got a water canon salute. Photo by Snohomish County Airport Fire Dept.

It is a nice tradition that aircraft get a water canon salute — our buses were no different — at least most of our buses. We were split up into four different buses and just so happens that two of the buses (one which I was on) missed the water canon salute. The other two received a nice wash down from the Snohomish County Airport Fire Department. Kindly, one of the fire fighters took photos and shared them with us.

AvGeeks in front of a Boeing 747-8I on the factory floor in Everett. Photo by Boeing.

AvGeeks in front of a Boeing 747-8I on the factory floor in Everett. Photo by Boeing.

Our four AvGeek groups toured around the factory floor, including the new 787 surge line. I have toured the factory a number of times now, but each time is a bit different and it never gets old walking among the brand new airliners. Being on the floor is very different than the public tour that takes place up on the walking platforms. I much more enjoy looking up at a 777, 787 or 747-8 than looking down.

After our tour, it was back on the buses and to the Future of Flight for an AvGeek social with pizza and beer.

The Future of Flight gallery floor set up in AvGeek social-mode. Image by Mal Muir.

The Future of Flight gallery floor set up in AvGeek social-mode. Image by Mal Muir.

Part of the social was giving out a number of prizes, including two free tickets on Southwest Airlines. By the time I was heading home, I was exhausted — but in a good way. There was quite a bit of walking, talking and learning and I was so thankful everything went so smoothly.

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Will there be an Aviation Geek Fest 2014? Heck yes there will! Start preparing now.

We are going to set the date to be President’s Day Weekend for next year, which is February 15th and 16th, 2014. The event will likely be similar with new and exciting things. Be sure to add your email to the AGF e-mail list (if you already signed up for AGF13, you do NOT need to sign up again). No details yet, but we are planning for it to be epic.

A huge thanks to…. the Future of Flight, Boeing, Museum of Flight, Historic Flight Foundation, the Flying Heritage Collection, Southwest Airlines and everyone else who helped to make this an amazing event. I cannot wait until next year!

125 PHOTOS OF AVIATION GEEK FEST

More AGF13 Goodies:

This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

Follow Along: Aviation Geek Fest Starts Today!

agf13And so it begins: Aviation Geek Fest 2013. There were 420 tickets sold, 206 different people are expected to attend, 30 folks were left on the wait list (sorry) and the farthest someone flew for #AGF13 is 4500 miles.

Today, we are going to be meeting at the Museum of Flight and checking out the Boeing 737 factory in Renton. SEE THE FULL AFG13 SCHEDULE.

If you were not able to make it this year, no worries — you can follow along via Twitter and Facebook. Also, check out the live feed below:

Want to join in for Aviation Geek Fest 2014? Make sure you are on the e-mail list(I know the page says AGF13, but it will become the AGF14 list). Until then — CHEERS!

Super Guppy Delivers Space Shuttle Trainer to the Museum of Flight

Super Guppy comes to Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com

Super Guppy comes to Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com

This story was written by Malcolm Muir for AirlineReporter.com

Saturday June 30th was going to be a truly epic day for Seattle.  Not just for the avgeeks amongst us but also for the spacegeeks, tourists, residents and anyone else you can think of.  With the shut down of the Shuttle Space program all of the original shuttles, training pieces etc were being farmed out to museums across the country.  Smithsonian was doing a swap with the Intrepid for a real shuttle, it made the news with the fly in shown world wide as a 747 piggy backed the shuttle to Dulles.

However, the Museum of Flight here in Seattle had also tried to get a shuttle, but there bids were unsuccessful.  They were not able to get a real shuttle, however they did not come out of it empty handed.  What they ended up managing to acquire was the Shuttle trainer.  This full size mock up of the shuttle was used by the astronauts as their training piece and also used as a test bed for any upgrades that were made to the shuttle fleet.

Even though it was not going to be a real shuttle, this was going to be just as good, you could get into this, touch it, feel it, see how things really worked.  But the main thing is, how do you get a full size shuttle trainer (that can’t sit on top of a 747 like the real thing) from the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, across to the other side of the country to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The Super Guppy sits next to NASA's chase plane outside the Museum of Flight. Photos by Malcom Muir / AirlineReporter.com

The Super Guppy sits next to NASA’s chase plane outside the Museum of Flight. Photos by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com

Bring on the NASA Super Guppy.  The last one left in existence that can still fly, is operated by NASA.  So why not bring it on over to Seattle with the first of the pieces of the trainer; the Crew Compartment.  The Super Guppy was originally designed to haul around pieces of oversized cargo and is based on an old Boeing Stratocruiser with Turboprop engines (the same used in the early C130 Hercules models) and having the iconic bulbous nose.  NASA acquired it from the European Space Agency in the 1990s so it still has a fitting role in the Space industry.

The Super Guppy was scheduled to bring in the first piece to Boeing Field, where it could park right next to the Museum of Flight, unload and they could just deliver the first of 3 large sections directly to the new purpose built facility.  However the weather was making things just a little bit difficult.  The clouds threatened all morning and there was a weather delay.

By the time I arrived at the museum the crowds were pumping.  Soundwave, the Seattle Sounders Official Band, were putting on a good performance for the crowd to keep everyone entertained.  There was a good variety of people and the museum Café and shop were doing a roaring trade.  I, on the other hand, was on the way to hit up the best viewing spot possible (turns out it was directly above some fellow avgeeks).

Soon enough after a dozen false alarms thanks to an oversized Banner/Flag being towed around Seattle, the Super Guppy came around for her low pass.

The Museum of Flight's DC-2 waits to welcome the Guppy. Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com

The Museum of Flight’s DC-2 waits to welcome the Guppy. Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com

She was brilliant and shiny.  You could see her coming from a mile away as the smoke belched out from the turboprops (just like they do on those old engines) and with a chase plane for photos or escort (not sure which).

Eventually she came back in for her landing and it was a graceful touch down, with a bare puff of smoke as the wheels touched the tarmac.  She taxied almost the full length of the runway directly up to the parking lot in front of the museum.  Here is where the fun really started for the ground crews.

The crew that the flew the aircraft were met by someone dressed in an EVA Space Suit and off into the crowd they went.  The crew that flew the Guppy were in a fully fledged astronauts suit as well and many kids wanted their photo with the crew and the “Spaceman”.

With the time for me running short I started to head off, but not before watching the ground crew try to squeeze the Guppy into the parking bay.  It was a tight fit with a 48ft undercarriage width and a 50ft Wide Taxiway, things had to be perfect.  It took a good 15 minutes or more just to move it a few feet (probably longer as when I left at the 15 minute mark they were still at it).

A truly epic way to start the summer off here in Seattle, a rare aircraft, a small amount of Avgeek and the beginning of what will I am sure be an amazing exhibit for the Museum of Flight when it opens in late 2012.

Additional photos of the event by Brandon Farris and by the Museum of Flight