Last Saturday we had our second annual Aviation Geek Fest hosted at the Future of Flight. 50 aviation lovers showed up to experience something special.
The event started off with a presentation on Boeing’s history from their historian, Mike Lombardi (photo). Mike is such a knowledgeable guy with a true passion for history and aviation. It was great learning more about Boeing’s history and hearing aviation geeks chime in with stories of their own. The cool part was when the geeks were able to ask questions of Mike and test his historical skills. I am guessing that Mike easily made 50 new friends on Saturday.
After getting pumped up, it was time to move to the Boeing auditorium for a short video on Boeing and their airplanes (photo). Then it was on to a Boeing bus to check out the factory (photo). Everyday Boeing offers tours of their factory, but this one was different — we got to walk on the factory floor with the planes versus seeing them from the balcony.
I was excited since I have never had this experience. Before we could go gazing at all the beautiful new aircraft, we had to put on safety glasses and get a safety briefing (photo). There were a lot of things for us to trip on and it would easy to become distracted.
Then the real fun started. We were able to get close and personal with some Boeing 777’s, 787’s and of course the brand new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Normally no cameras are allowed on the factory tour, but Boeing was pulling out all the stops. David Reese, who works for Boeing, agreed to take photos of our VIP factory tour that we would be allowed to use. This was great since we had to give up all our electronic devices, which is not easy to do. Many of us aviation geeks are also technology geeks and not being able to take photos or Tweet is difficult. However, it was nice to just enjoy the experience and not worry about taking all the right photos.
I have been on the tarmac close to airplanes before, but this was different. There was something special being so close to Boeing aircraft that have never flown before. They were clean, fresh, air virgins that were getting ready to take flight.
Although seeing some Boeing 787’s up close from the factory floor was pretty sweet, my favorite part of the tour was the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. The 747-8 Freighter has already taken flight, but this is the first Intercontinental and it looked good… it looked damn good.
Before our tour, I wondered if seeing that extended upper deck would be obvious in person and it very much is. No one should have trouble telling the difference between the Boeing 747-400 and the 747-8I.
After checking out the new 747, we were able to check out a Boeing 777 still in two large pieces (photo). It was surreal to take a close look at a flight deck with almost no one in it. We also got to take a look at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner static test bed, which has been putting the 787 to the test for quite some time now (photo).
It was definitely hard to get everyone back on the bus. I am sure most of us could have stayed for hours, maybe even forever. Even though it was time to head back to the Future of Flight we had one last Boeing treat — a drive down the flight line. We got a close look at a bunch of Boeing 787’s, 777’s and 747-8F (photo).
When we arrived back to the Future of Flight, we had the opportunity to check out a demonstration by Laser Motive who have created a way to send a power charge through a laser. They had a helicopter that was flying based on the charge from the laser. It was nice sitting down to some pizza and beer and talk with them about how this technology can be used in the future.
It was very nice seeing the planes, but even better being able to talk about aviation with fellow geeks. I can’t wait until next year!