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!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!