Museum of Flight – Guided Tour
My grandfather was a small town mechanic in Illinois who bought his first plane between WWI and WWII. He later barnstormed with an airshow between the wars flying a Ford Tri-Motor. He introduced his grandchildren to flight in the nineteen fifties before walking on the moon was a historical footnote and before air safety was a reality we take for granted. As an adult I had the chance to stand inside one of the few remaining Ford Tri-Motor planes in North America. It was one of those true “holy crap” moments in your life. It was a Quonset hut with wings, what pilots call a “flying brick”. Landing and take-offs on a good day could have been no better than a 50-50 proposition. Still, I remember the magic of flying with my grandfather…I think that was one of those moments when you really get it.
The Museum of Flight in Seattle captures the passion from that era of flight in our last century, a passion that totally consumed the American imagination. The museum houses the first primitive glider designed by the Wright brothers as well as the stealthy “Blackbird” capable of Mach 3 and an 80,000 ft. ceiling – the museum has assembled a massive collection of flying machines. The Great Gallery is a 3 million-cubic-foot, six-story glass-and-steel exhibit hall currently containing 39 full-size historic aircraft, 23 of which including the nine-ton Douglas DC-3 hang from the space-frame ceiling in flight attitude. The Museum is situated at Boeing Field in Seattle just west of I-5, it is easy to find (just 10 minutes from downtown or SeaTac airport).
The whole museum is spread throughout a number of buildings, including the main exhibit hall, the “Red Barn” which was the original manufacturing facility for Boeing, the new wing featuring “Personal Courage”, and also the Airpark across the street which showcases a number of prototype aircraft (747 and 737) and rarities such as the first jet propelled “Air Force One” and a Concorde jet (1 of only 4 shown outside Europe).
Admission is very reasonable and you can get that discounted with the purchase of a Seattle “CityPass”, which can provide up to a 50% discount. The address for the museum is 9404 East Marginal Way S., Seattle, WA 98108-4097 click MapQuest for directions. Information on admission costs, hours, special events like the B-17 “Boeing Bee” Bomber Tour, etc. are all available on the Museum of Flight website.