The area’s love affair with aviation began in 1916, when airplane manufacturer Boeing set up shop in Seattle. In the 100 years since, high-flying attractions continue to draw flight enthusiasts from near and far.
See where it all started at the Museum of Flight in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Visitors can explore the Red Barn, Boeing’s original manufacturing facility, and see more than 150 air and spacecraft, including a retired Air Force One, a supersonic Concorde jet, and NASA’s space shuttle trainer, which real astronauts used to prepare for missions. From spring through fall, you can also take a runway tour of nearby Boeing Field to get a look at a working airport. Keep in mind, Boeing Field tour participants must be 8 years or older.
Indulge in more airplane buzz about an hour north of Seattle in Mukilteo, where the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour is one of the most popular draws in the state. Start with a movie about Boeing’s legacy in the region, then board a charter bus to tour Boeing’s assembly plant. From areas above the factory floor, watch as 747s, 777s, and 787s are built. Then head back to the Future of Flight center to catch up on what’s new in-flight technology with interactive exhibits about everything from innovations in jet fuel to the latest in material technology. Note: Factory tour participants must be at least four feet tall for safety reasons.
Next door at Everett’s Paine Field, the Historic Flight Foundation and Flying Heritage Collection honor vintage aircraft. Hangars house lovingly restored warbirds, some of which return to the sky during annual air shows. Meanwhile, in Olympia, the Olympic Flight Museum doles out more restored planes and helicopters at Olympia Regional Airport.
If you’re in the mood for aviation in action, head to Arlington for the annual Arlington Fly-In and its three days of airshows, biplanes, vintage aircraft, and even hot air balloons. Or embark on a floatplane tour with Kenmore Air from Seattle’s Lake Union to take to the skies in classic Pacific Northwest style. Happy flying!
-- Angela Cabotaje