Monday, April 15, 2013


Once we got off the bus, the entrance of the Museum of Flight was conveniently located right beside the exit of the bus. The museum is actually divided in to two parts, with one part on the west and the other on the east part of Marginal way. The bus (124 if you are coming from downtown), you will be dropped off on the west part of the museum.

We started our tour at the west part of the museum where there is a space exhibit and the airpark. Before we entered, we paid $18 for admission, which I find is an awesome deal to see so many things. Starting with the space exhibit, there was a mock space shuttle, space probe, and walls full of information on the space program. What I found was the coolest thing in this exhibit was the space toilet. There was a video along with the space toilet that explained how it worked. Too bad they didn't put a functional one there for guests to try.
After the space exhibit, we went to the airpark. Personally I am a huge fan of aviation and when I saw all of the aircraft parked outside I went wild. There was the Concorde (the only on the West coast of North America), the first Boeing 747 "City of Everett", world's first 737, Boeing 707 "airforce one", and "Connie" a Trans Canada airlines (i forgot what model, but I think it was a DHC).
The coolest thing about this air park was that guests can actually climb aboard the aircraft and take a view of the insides. Not all of them are open for viewing. When we were there, only the Boeing 707 "airforce one" and the Concorde was open. We started our tour of the insides of the aircraft with the Concorde.
When you enter the Concorde, you will immediately notice how small the insides are. The doors are just about my height, maybe even abit shorter and I'm only 5'8. Once inside, I find that my shoulders are just the width of the aisle. Although all of the seats were put behind a wall of plastic to prevent damage to them, you get to see what they looked like.
One thing that stumped me was that I remember in physics class, the professor mentioned something about how there were wheels attached to the seat of the Concorde because at Mach 2, the body of the airplane is supposed to stretch... My friend and I looked for a bit, but we didn't see any wheels... That said, the other thing that stumped me as well was that in pictures of the cabin of the Concorde, you see how comfortable and spacious the Concorde is... I realized that they must have gotten people who were shorter in size in these picture shoots. Anyway, sorry for getting side tracked, these are just observations :p.
After we disembarked the Concorde, we headed over to the Boeing 707, "air force one". Once we entered this aircraft, it had quite a vintage feel to it. The first thing you will notice is the two washroom, that had curtains as doors. Then, you will notice the passenger portion (I guess this is where the media or other people the president brought along sat). The seats were pretty spacious. The typical 707 for economy class fits 6 people abreast, however in the passenger component of the air force one, it was 4 abreast. From this you can see how spacious it is.
If you keep walking past the passenger section, you will enter the president's state room. On the way, you will also notice that the area that you would normally put luggage in, in other words  the over head luggage compartment, it is actually a crew rest that drops down from the ceiling. The crew rest it self wasn't very big.
The president's state room felt abit like one of those diners. There were tables and a series of round couches that were organized in an oval formation. Besides the fact that these couches felt abit vintage, the president's quarters felt very comfy. After passing the president's quarters  you will walk by the communications room. It is really cool to see the equipment like the radio transmitters and etc... What was really interesting was to see a "fake thermostat , which the museum even pointed out on a display. I hope back then, when the aircraft was being used by the presidents they used a real thermostat.
Before you disembark the aircraft, you will get a view of the cock pit, this was before the age of "fly by wire". So you will see all of the analog equipment that was used before all the screens indicating the altitude and seperate measurements came out.
After we left the airpark, we crossed the pedestrian bridge above Marginal Way to the other side of the museum. The first thing we noticed was the architecture of the bridge. The way the glass combined with the steel frame structure really made the bridge look cool.
The first thing you run into after you cross the bridge is the lobby of the museum of flight. We decided to visit the gift shop first. Inside the gift shop, you will find a selection of items that are all aviation related. There are models, numerous books, toys, gadgets, tons of souvenirs  One thing I must say is the price of the models aren't cheap. Personally, i'm a model collector and the price that they charge for each model like the 787 hogan 1/200 is at least 10 bucks more than what the Boeing store charge for. Mind you, the museum is non-profit, so by buying these models, you are indirectly supporting the museum. Besides the fact that the models are more expensive, the rest of the items I find are pretty fairly priced.
We didn't end up buying too many things (mainly because we are students and kinda broke...), we continued on to visit the rest of the museum. The next stop is the Great Hall. Once you walk in you will immediately notice the amount of aircraft that is hanging from the ceiling, parked on the ground and everywhere.
What I found really cool was the fighter jets that were parked on the ground. I imagined these fighter jets to be small, but they are actually pretty big. In addition to American fighters, there were many jets from China, the Soviet Union, which is always interesting to see.
Besides these jets, they also have a display about space here too (not really sure why they don't put all the space displays together), but this display is slightly different than the display on the other side of the bridge. This display features the international space station, and a section of it. When we were there, we ran into a volunteer who was super passionate about space, and we learned that the section/module of the space station is one of the few in the world on display. On the floor of the module, you can see the scenery of Earth as the space station flies above us. What was cool was this volunteer was able to point out where some things were such as the beach in North Carolina where the Wright brother's took their first flight.
A specialty of the Great Hall is that above it, there is a tower exhibition where it is setup like a control tower of the King County Airport. You get a nice bird's eye view of the aircraft taking off from King County Airport. Moreover, at this tower display, you get to see on the screen the incoming traffic coming into the SeaTac area.
In addition to all that's mentioned about the Great Hall, there are some flight simulators here. When I was here before, I tried the small simulator where you get to drive a plane with a buddy (or by yourself) and try piloting a plane. It was really cool because you get to do a 360 degree roll. However, the ride itself is pricey  For 4 mins of flight, it costs $8. We weren't even able to land our aircraft in that 4 minutes.. Haha, but never-the-less it's pretty cool.
After we were finished in the Great Hall, we (well.. I was) were hungry and we made a pit stop at the cafe to grab a bite to eat. I wanted something light so I got an Odwella juice. The price was abit more than you would pay at somewhere - say Target... But I thought, well because the museum is non-profit... Might as well.
Once we left the cafe, we noticed we were short on time so we made a quick stop at the World War I and II gallery. This gallery was really cool because it contained many artifacts about WWI and II, many were models of the aircraft that were used then. The coolest thing is you can see the transition from wooden frames for aircraft in WWI to metal frames in WWII. Besides the aircraft, they have things like uniforms from both the World Wars. It is definitely a great exhibit to explore more, if there was more time. Another notable thing about this WW1 and WW2 gallery is it's atmosphere. With dim lightening and also the ventilation in that place, it gives a feeling of sadness to the exhibit that can send chills up your spine I think if you were in there too long.
Before we left the museum, we visited the Red Barn. This was the Boeing Company's first factory. It is amazing to see where one of the world's largest companies started. Inside the barn you will see various displays of machinery that helped build planes back then. Inside there are some interesting facts about Boeing's history. One of the most surprising facts was that the first engineer for Boeing was of Asian descent! That's not all, there are brief biographies of some of Boeing's top engineers. As a word of caution, this building because of it's age and wooden structure, you can hear the floor creek as people walk upstairs... and when you are upstairs, it's a bit freaky to hear the floor creek below you...
When we were finished visiting the Red Barn, we had to run outside as the next 124 bus taking us back to Downtown Seattle was arrive. In general, this was one of the most worthwhile $18 I've spent because it opened up my eyes and also inspired me to the dream of flight. I would recommend this museum as a must visit for all aviation enthusiasts and just someone looking for a good time!

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