Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boeing Aircraft Company

The Boeing Aircraft Company began in 1916 by William Boeing. His first plane was a B & W Seaplane and eventually sold it to New Zealand. The first 40 years were dedicated to building military or government plans such as the Model 40 Mail-plane, PW-9C fighter, B-17, B-29 and more military aircraft. After the war the company decided to go into the passenger travel and started to develop the 707.

The Boeing Company's first foray in the passenger plane travel was the 367-80 to be named the Dash 80. After some discussion about the name, it was proposed to be called the 700. This held until a salesman suggested that 707 rolled off the tongue much better than just... 700, and so it begins.

The 707 was a steep gamble on Boeing's part, they had spent all the company money to develop this single plane. At a hydroplane show in Seattle on Lake Washington in 1954 the pilot of the 707 did the unthinkable..."two barrel rolls" over the crowd! Two months later the Pan American World Airways orders 20 of the 707's and the rest is "history".

If you are lucky, you get to see an unmarked silver test plane taking off now and again from Paine Field. I say test not because it is a developing plane, but more like when they drive a car off the assembly line, it is first tested to make sure it starts and runs ok.

Although Boeing allows tours throughout its facilities by bus and some walking... cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices are strictly forbidden, and they check. The tour guide says it is for the safety of the workers and planes on the assembly line because we are about 50 feet above them, but other sources say it's so Boeing keeps complete control of all media. The large building across the runway is the assembly building, it's the largest building by volume in the world with a floor space of 4.3 million square feet. In this they build the 747, 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner... they are considered "wide-bodies". (I just noticed in researching that the second largest building in the world is also in Washington, not far from here in Lacey...the Target warehouse building)

These buildings are across a freeway (and runway) that separates the assembly building (linked by the only private bridge over a state highway in Washington) and paint buildings. There were 4 painting buildings that I counted and a 747 takes 3 days to paint.

After painting, (color and design is dictated by the buyer) the plane is filled with fuel to the top, then all but 6 hours worth of fuel is drained from the wings for testing. 
One interesting tidbit the tour guide gave us was that "Boeing is not an aircraft "manufacture"... it is an aircraft assembler". While it does design components, those pieces are then manufactured all over the globe to be fitted at Boeing.

Here the 747's body comes out of an assembly line, sheathed in a green vinyl to protect the aluminum from UV rays until it is painted. One other bit of info I got from the tour is that the 747 costs between $315 to $340 million dollars, depending on its configuration. That price is WITHOUT engines. The customer picks either GE or Pratt & Whitney and on the 787 you can add Rolls Royce jet engines. Single engines run from $7 million to $35 million...each.

Here is Boeing's new military KC-46A wide body tanker. It is based on a commercial 767 aircraft and there is lots of work left to do to transform this plane into a tanker.

This is the finish line where aircraft, after painting and testing, are ready for the customers to come and pick up... Boeing does not deliver.
One trick my brother taught me is to google the planes number...and in this case the JetBlues number was  #N536 JB and google says it's an Airbus 320? I looked online but could not find out why an Airbus would be sitting on Boeings pick-up line.

The people in the waiting area (yours truly included) were lucky to see this Dreamlifter open up. We then had to get on the bus without cameras, but were informed that the Dreamlifter is just a 747 that has a huge expansive fuselage to carry the composite center fuselage of the 787 that comes from Japan. While the Dreamlifter can carry more in volume than a regular 747, it can't match the 747's carrying capacity... weight wise. There are 4 Dreamlifters in the world, all owned by Boeing, to collect bits and pieces of the 787.

I borrowed this from Reuters just to show you where all the bits and pieces of the 787 are produced, this is the very first commercial aircraft designed completely by computer. (More about that next)

This is a hanger about a mile from Boeing, but owned by the company where they are trying to correct some of the many 787 problems. Some of the issues are from the plane parts being fabricated in 30 different countries, where quality control might be a little hard to maintain. Some of the problems developed with the carbon fiber flexing more than anticipated... mostly the passenger isles that flexed up and down like in an earthquake...they needed more reinforcement.

Behind the tail of the green vinyl plane is a composite piece of the 787 fuselage that came from Japan in the Dreamlifter. Like said, they only put the parts together at the Everett plant.

Here a 787 is undergoing some major refitting. Of the first 6 Dreamliners, 3 are unworthy of flight and 3 cannot be sold to commercial airlines... but if you have the money, as a private citizen, you could buy one of the 3 at a discount... ☺

If anyone knows the name of this airline, please pass it on to me.

The two Boeing tours are of its factory and The Future of Flight. I was going to do separate blogs, but the Future of Flight really does not have the meat for me to do it by itself. This is an actual  piece of the composite fuselage from Japan.

Until you stand next to one of these immense  jet engines it is hard to imagine just how powerful they are. One info card on the wall said that if the Rolls Royce was backed up to a window and would take 4 seconds to drain this huge two story building of any!
Until next time.....

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Flying Heritage Collection

If you are tired of airplanes in general, go no further. I have this Paul Allen Flying Heritage Collection to blog along with two Boeing Tours (that's right, two of them) and there is a third museum I am looking at for next week.

Donna was under doctor's orders to stay in bed so off I go. Hey, I wasn't under any medical instructions and I did make sure she was comfortable before I left...

It would take too much of my time detailing Paul Allen's ventures in space, music, sports, artificial intelligence or philanthropy so you can just go here to find out more about his life. He does seem to have an interest in military history so the Flying Heritage Collection was my tour of the day. At the fare of $12 to get in here at Paine Field, I still thought it was a bargain all the same.

This Hawker Hurricane MK XIIA, with a V-12 Packard/Merlin engine, was born in 1942 and sent to the Royal Canadian Air Force but never saw duty. It crashed landed in the 1950's and was recovered years later to be restored. There's always been competition between the Spitfire and the Hurricane about which was Great Britains most ferocious fighter. While the Spitfire was more famous, the Hurricane downed more German aircraft. It along with all the planes in the collection are in flying condition and do go out once in a while...but some are a "one of a kind" or "last one" and will never be flown again.

Ok... Most aviation enthusiasts have vivid memories of the Supermarine Spitfire MK VC  from all the WWII war movies that always seem to show the Spitfires in couragous dogfights over the London skies. This plane had an awesome wide arrange of deadly armaments. 

Not exactly a "flying machine", this German Kattenkrofrad was still an interesting design, 1/2 motorcycle/1/2 tank and it would be an awesome sight at next Sturgis Rally in 2015. Of all the war movies I've watched in the 1950's, I never remember seeing the Kattenkrofrad.

This only counts as "flying" because of the round it fires up into the air. Another first for me is this close up of a German Flak 37 Anti-aircraft gun. The word flak comes from the German word..."flugabwenhrkanone", whew, now I see why they shortened it to FLAK. This beast could shoot 15 rounds per minute of 20 pound shells to over 30,000 feet in altitude. It was designed in the early thirties in Sweden to avoid treaty restrictions. 

The Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat downed more than 5000 Japanese aircraft during the war. Wide short wings that could be folded after landing on aircraft carriers, it was a formidable fighter plane. The Hellcat was known to be able to take severe punishment, and still fly home.

This is the only surviving Focke-Wulf  Fw 190 D-13 Long Nose and although fully restored, it will never be flown again. This plane had the nickname of "Butcher Bird"...not a plane I'd want to tangle with.

This is one truly bad motherhumper of a flying machine. The V-2 rocket was an indiscriminate killer because of such a poor guidance system was sort of like "lighting a fuse and hoping for the best". Nearly 3000 were fired from Germany into England and Netherlands. This one was uncovered in the 1990's (imagine, still there in the 90's) at an underground location in Nordhausen, Germany.

We tend to think that our generation has changed technology to its extreme in the 1990's and 2000's but if you consider the aircraft and engine technology accomplishments between 1939 and 1945 it is like night and day. One example is the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79 called the "double wasp", it was a powerful radial 18 cylinder engine producing between 2,100 or 2,800 horsepower and used on long range bombers and fighter planes. Over 125,000 engines were built during the war...ONE HUNDERED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND...most were built by Ford.

After the war this Mitsubishi Zero was found in a Georgia junk yard and is still in its unrestored condition.

The collection volunteer who I was talking to suspected that after the war, the plane in a junk yard, was attacked by southern patriots wielding axes.

One of my favorite planes is still the Lockheed P-38 Lightning just because of its twin engine and twin just looks bad!
I asked the volunteer why Paul Allen doesn't have a P-38 in his collection and all the poor guy could do was to bob his head up and down while repeating, "we can only comment on planes we have here on the property". Ok, ok I get the hint... Paul has one, but just not prepared to display it

The Republic P24D Thunderbolt was one of the heaviest, single engine fighters made.

Who hasn't seen or loved the North American P51's flying over 400 mph at the air races at Reno? I've always thought of the P51 as an "all American" plane, but it was actually the British, who in 1940, asked the North American Aviation Company to develop and then build the Mustangs to their specifications. The Mustang was a fast fighter and also a long range bomber.

The Fieseler FI 103 and 103R were a destructive invention from a desperate country. The 103 was officially named as a V-1 rocket, but the more familiar name in for it in England was...the buzz bomb.

The 103R (guess R was for the rider :-o) was a pilot manned 
V-1 that would improve on its accuracy most likely at the expense of the pilot. 
Again, these two rockets (and more) were found in the 1990's near Nordhaisen, Germany. The Soviet Army discovered the underground missile factory after the war and destroyed the entrances only to be re-discovered nearly a half century later... it makes me wonder what the hell else is still hiding in Europe these days?

This pterodactyl looking thing hanging from the ceiling is a 318 White Knight carrier aircraft that took the SpaceShipOne to an altitude of nearly 9 miles before launching. This White Knight is the actual plane that was used.

This is an exact replica of the original SpaceShipOne that is hanging in Washington DC at the Smithsonian. 


This short clip was from the Collections parking lot. I had noticed what looked like a new shiny Southwest plane. I had asked the same volunteer while talking about the P38 if the Southwest plane was new. No, that building is where they do a thorough maintenance or repair that the normal airline company is unable to do or has the technology to perform.

That's all for this week... or a couple days anyhow.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Museum of Flight Restoration Center

This was my day to goof off seeing that Donna had to stay home all day for a test. I told her that this is a good opportunity for me to head over to Boeing, just a mile or so away, and take my time touring. Boeing Aircraft Company actually shares Paine Field with the public, it is not a private airport.

I've been easily sidetracked all my life and today was no different. About a block from Boeing there was this large building with an interesting sign that needed to be investigated. The Museum of Flight Restoration Center.

The restoration museum was one of many aircraft related businesses in Paine Field Airport business park. Paine Field got its name in 1941 from a heroic mail pilot who flew earlier in the 20th Century. Paul Allen has his military collection museum in the park, along with another that I did not get the name of.

I was the only tourist at the museum this morning so I got a "private tour" from Barry, a few years my senior and a wealth of aeronautical information. This was by far the best $5 I have ever spent. Most of the information in the following photos is from Barry along with a quick "google" search from me to confirm.

I will start with the Lockheed Jetstar Business Jet  #1. This was Lockheeds first business jet to go into production in 1956 according to Barry, although the Lockheed site says the Jetstar production started in 1957. This is #1 of all the business jets ever

Barry then pointed out a "mock-up" of the SST that Boeing was in competition to build in the early 70's. The SST was wider, longer and faster than the European counterpart "Concord" that caused the American aircraft builder to finally throw in the towel on a supersonic travel. Barry said that when Boeing stopped the project in 1971, 10,000 engineers lost their job. I mentioned that the video of the Concord catching on fire in a runway incident where a piece of debris punctured a fuel tank, resulting in 109 deaths... but more importantly, the shutting down of the Concord service altogether.

Barry said that the belly of the Concord had a well known soft spot that caused the British to reinforce the bottoms of its planes...the French were to cheap to do the same, with a horrible crash as the evidence.

This glider was developed and built in 1942 and after the war, they were auctioned off for sale to private individuals.

The cockpit of the sailplane is at the beginning of its restoration process.

These two wings on the 1940's sailplane are being restored. One is still in its wooden frame while the other has it's wood covered by a UV resistant poly vinyl. 

The sailplane above set the altitude record in 1952 when two pilots utilized the "Sierra Wave" in order to soar to 44,255 feet elevation, a record that was held for 54 years.

My favorite plane is this de Havilland D.C 106 Comet 4C. In the early 50's the British took the lead in passenger jet travel with a line of jetliners called, Comets. This worked out well until two aircraft failed in four months with a great loss of human life. The Comet went through several major structural changes, but the crashes left a bad taste for the de Havilland. The D.C. 106 4C corrected the previous problems by utilizing oval windows instead of square windows...this fixed the problem, but the publicity over the crashes never allowed the company recover. This particular plane served Mexicana Airline for ten years before being shuttered off for charter service.

Visibility seemed so restrictive in the cockpit, not sure how well a pilot could really see out of this seat.

I was amazed not only by the spaciousness of the Comet but the quality of the material in the seating area. Certainly more room and nicer seats than Southwest Air.

I thought this seat sign was rather funny...but true none the less.

This is one of the de Havillands engines waiting to be rebuilt by volunteers. If you are up here in this area, I would certainly recommend the restoration center to all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dedicated to Donna's friend....Cathy O

I hadn't remembered that Jimi Hendrix was from Seattle and that he is also interred here as well. When I did become aware of this little piece of information the only one person (other than myself of course) who might appreciate the resting spot was one of Donna's best friend, Cathy O...who is a complete "music" junky.

James "Jimi" Hendrix was a shooting star...very bright but, too quickly extinguished. After a 4 year shot at stardom Jimi died of an accidental reaction to a barbiturate which induced asphyxiation...just in time to join the 27 Club.

The 27 Club is one club you really don't want to join. Musicians who died at the age of 27. Jimi of course, Brian Jones of the Stones, Pete Ham, Alan Wilson, Jim Morrison, Curt Cobain, Janis Joplin...all my favorites, but the one that hurts the most is Amy Winehouse. 

Here in Renton, Washington just south of Seattle, is the final resting place for Jimi. While I was there, late in the afternoon, four other car loads of admires also paid their respect. Jimi Hendrix wasn't just music for the hippies, 1960's generation or druggies...half the visitors were young (mid to lower 20"s) so his music must be transcending to the kids of this generation. Interesting tidbit...Jimi was a lefty who played a right handed guitar...upside down!

Under this slab is the resting place of Mr. Hendrix. Other admirers have left notes, love letter, guitar picks and smokes.

Those smudges on Jimi's cheek are from the hundreds of lips, mostly women I suppose, giving the rock star a kiss.

Within the tomb it appears other Hendrix family members are also buried with Jimi.

This is for Cathy, curtsey of Donna's artwork.