Day one: Seattle
As you saw this morning, Seattle has a long history as a center of aviation, and Boeing's production site in Everett is so massive that the giant hangar where Matt stood even has its own weather systems. (It can sometimes rain inside the hangar!)While Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago a few years ago, the Seattle area is still aviation central. It's also where you'll find the campus of Microsoft in Redmond. You'll find great seafood restaurants throughout Seattle, and it's also the jumping off port for a great ferry system to nearby lakefront communities, not to mention one of my favorite day trips to Vashon Island.Perhaps the best part of Seattle is how manageable a city it is. You can base yourself in the center of the city and do day trips to places like Vashon, Mercer or Bainbridge.You can watch them toss (or perhaps more appropriately, rocket-throw) fish at the Pike Place Market, have great Thai food just about anywhere in town and have sunset drinks on the water.But whenever I go to Seattle, one of my first stops — and today it was Matt's — is Boeing. Museum of Flight
Start your trip with a tour of the Museum of Flight (museumofflight.org). The steel and glass Great Gallery houses dozens of full-size aircraft flying in formation, six stories above. You can sit in the cockpit of a real SR-71 Blackbird, F/A-18 Hornet or even board America's first presidential jet — Air Force One. Climb aboard the sleek Concorde. Or step back 95 years in the magnificently restored Red Barn, birthplace of The Boeing Company. The museum offers hands-on workshops for kids, fly-ins and interactions with the people who made aviation history.
The Museum of Flight is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. On the first Thursday of each month, the museum remains open until 9:00 pm.
The Airpark currently is home to America's first jet Air Force One, the very first 747, the original 737, a Boeing 727 and the sleek Concorde. Kids and kids-at-heart can even climb aboard Air Force One and the Concorde.The Airpark is open daily from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm between May 1 and Labor Day. Hours are 11:00 am to 3:30 pm the rest of the year. Tours are free with museum admission. But one word of caution: It's not unusual to experience a wait to board the Concorde.Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
In Everett, 25 miles north of Seattle, you'll find the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour (futureofflight.org). As part of the tour, you get to see what Matt saw — the largest building in the world by volume (472,000,000 cubic feet). On the Boeing flight line, you'll also see airplanes in different stages of flight test and manufacturing for airline customers around the world.
A must stop is the 240-seat theater, where you can see a dramatic, time-lapse film of aBoeing 777 being assembled. Much of the museum features interactive learning zones (flight controls, avionics, navigation systems and hydraulics). All of these are equipped with touch screen computers — and perhaps the best part is that you can even design your own aircraft. One word of caution: It's okay to design your plane inside the center, but please don't build it at home!The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour is open 7 days a week from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, closing only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Contact: 360-756-0086 or 800-464-1476. Admission: children: $8, general: $15.