As snow poured in the D.C. area on February, 14th, 2014, I remembered that in about 24 hours I would be in Seattle. But, I wasn’t just going to Seattle to explore the city, I was going to make my love for aviation flourish at Aviation Geek Fest 2014.
After the snow in D.C. had been plowed, I made my way to DCA where I waited for my flight that was on time and in first class flight from DCA to ORD. This was my first time flying in first class domestically and I got to do it on one of my favorite airplanes: the American Eagle (d.b.a. Republic Airlines) Embraer 175. This specific airplane looks very sleek and bold on the outside, but inside it has a typical Republic Airlines cabin. For a regional airline on such a short route, the flight was very nice and so was the first class experience. We were served beverages multiple times and we also were offered lunch which was delicious. After I arrived in ORD, I chilled in the American Airlines Admirals Club for a while to rest and well….plane spot (I was just getting warmed up). the club has great views of the runways and American ramp.
A few months before the event, NYCAviation.com contributing editor, Ben Granucci and I realized that we were on the same flight from ORD-SEA. Once Ben told me he had arrived, I rushed down to go meet up with him. We talked for a while, but they began to board first class and I had to ditch him until we arrived in Seattle. When I was boarding the American Airlines new livery 737-800, I had my fingers crossed that the aircraft would have in-seat entertainment like a few of the new 737-800s do, but sure enough it didn’t have that or the Boeing Sky Interior. I was disappointed, but at the same time, I reminded myself where I was going. The crew aboard the flight was exceptional and the food in first class was great. Like all good #AvGeek tweeps, Ben and I were Tweeting each other via Gogo Inflight wifi for almost the whole flight.
After a smooth and scenic landing at SEA, I finally arrived. I drove up to Everett and after getting a little lost, I was greeted with a Dreamlifter at the Dreamlifter Operations Center and I knew exactly where I was, even though this was my first time in the state of Washington, let alone Everett.
After taking a few photos out my hotel room window which had a great view of the airfield, I went to bed unable to stop thinking about the upcoming events. I woke up early the next day where I had breakfast with a few fellow aviation geeks. Just then, we all saw alerts on our phones telling us that the Dreamlifter was coming in, myself and about thirty other #AvGeeks were outside braving the frigid chilliness of Seattle just to see this airplane land feet away from us. Many of us snapped photos of the flight line, too, while the lighting was good and before the rain started.
After I saw the Dreamlifter land, I went to the Future of Flight Aviation Center to check out some of the cool demonstrations they had inside. After exploring the aviation center, I headed across Paine Field to a hidden gem called the Museum of Flight Restoration Center. This is where the Museum of Flight (which we visited on Sunday) refurbishes their airplanes for display. It was very cool to see a United 727 and DC-3, a Comet, and some other aircraft. There was also tons of models and aviation memorabilia. While at the restoration center, we were allowed to go inside the Comet which was extraordinary and fascinating, even for someone as young as me.
At around noon, all of us met in a room at the Future of Flight Center where we were given a welcoming speech. We were dispatched to our tours and sure enough my group and another group went into the Boeing factory at Paine Field first. After a bus ride through Paine Field and after we ditched our cameras and cell phone, we went inside the massive building. We were greeted with a 747-8F at the door. We put on safety googles and ear pieces and went out onto the factory floor. There was so much to see that it was overwhelming, but beautiful on many levels.
After the tour, our group was given the treat of driving along the Paine Field flight line. We got to see so many airplanes that you would probably never see in the United States. We also got to see the brand new Everett Delivery Center where Boeing delivers new commercial and freighter aircraft to customers.
We arrived back at the Future of Flight Center where we were given the opportunity to go onto the Dreamlifter ramp. It was rainy and windy, but no one cared, we all wanted to see this awesome looking airplane and get pictures of it. After going out on the ramp and exploring the Future of Flight Center a little more, we attended a fantastic after party in the Future of Flight where prizes were given away and we all had a good time talking #AvGeek. Then we had an after…after party in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton Garden Inn which is feet away from the Future of Flight Center and Paine Field. That was also fun; we all were looking at the flight line, talking, and watching the airplanes takeoff at Paine Field.
After a good rest, we all migrated to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field where we attended day two of Aviation Geek Fest 2014. On the second day, we would tour the 737 factory at Renton which is not open to the public. We also were given exclusive access inside the first 747 and a Lockheed Constellation.
We arrived at the Museum of Flight, met up, and boarded buses that would take us to the Renton factory. We drove for about 20 minutes and arrived at another very large complex. The whole Aviation Geek Fest group went inside the building, split up, and we were led by our great tour guides out to the balconies that overlook the 737 assembly lines. The factory held multiple 737s at once. It was great to see what goes on in building the world’s most widely used passenger airplane.
The group arrived back at the Museum of Flight where, yet again, we split up to go do our own things within the museum. I immediately went to the airpark and checked out the Concorde, Air Force One (707), a Trans-Canada Constellation, the N.A.S.A. 737, American Airlines 727, and the first 747. Despite poor weather, the great team at the Museum of Flight gladly opened the doors on both the Constellation and the first 747. Both of them were almost gutted completely, but the 747 had many parts from its many test flights back in the 1960s and 70s. In addition, we all could go inside the Concorde and Air Force One as regular museum visitors would.
Aviation Geek Fest 2014 was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. It was definitely the best aviation related event that I have attended. To be able to meet so many other aviation geeks like me was probably the best thing about the whole event. I hope this event lasts for along time to inspire more love for aviation.
A special thanks to David Parker Brown at AirlineReporter.com, the Future of Flight, Boeing, the Museum of Flight, and everyone that made this event so great.
Of course I could not include all photo here. Come check the rest of the photos out in the Flickr set.
Header image via a Boeing photographer