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Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour

Boeing offers public tours at its facility in Everett

Inside the Future of Flight Aviation Center there are many interactive exhibits showing the impressive abilities of Boeing Company. Photo credit: Missy Bouchat

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Being affiliated with the military comes with many advantages, including an abundance of opportunity to travel. Whether you are traveling for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), or traveling abroad, chances are you have flown in one of the many airplane models that Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, has produced.

That airplane, more than likely, was manufactured at their Everett, Washington, facility, the world's largest building by volume. The factory is open for tours seven days a week, and is a fascinating experience, unlike any other.

The Future of Flight Aviation Center is about a 30-minute commute north from Seattle, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). It's an easy day trip that adults and kids will enjoy. The center has interactive activities, and the tour itself is an aviation enthusiast's dream come true.

At the center, visitors are greeted with a lobby exhibition of Boeing History, with a well-stocked gift shop to the right, and a café serving coffee, baked goods and snacks to the left.

Visitors have the option to purchase tickets to visit the Future of Flight Aviation Center for a smaller price tag. The gallery highlights more than 150 products and services offered by Boeing. This option is perfect for families with younger children, as the Boeing Tour itself does not allow children under four feet tall.

The aerospace exhibition is 5,000 square feet of exciting simulations, unique and interactive design challenges, future concepts, and the inspiring stories of milestones and innovations. Tickets to the exhibits also include access to the Destiny Module, a detailed mock-up of the U.S. research lab sent to the International Space Station Feb. 7, 2001, as well as entry to the Sky Deck, where you can see the Boeing factory from on top of the Future of Flight Aviation Center, and possibly see test flights taking off and landing.

For families with older children, the Boeing Factory tour is a must-do. The tour begins at the Aviation Center with a short video describing the different airplanes manufactured on site, including the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliners.

Next, a bus will bring you from the Aviation Center to the factory, where the group descends into the underground tunnels and into different areas of manufacturing and assembly lines. You can see engines being installed, impressive wing spans and countless scaffoldings illustrating the immense job of constructing an airplane.

The tour guides explain the different areas of the factory, tools and materials being used, as well as the history of the company itself. The overall tour takes one-and-a-half hours, with about one third of a mile of walking and multiple freight elevator rides. Military tickets are $22, and youth (younger than 16 years old, but over four feet tall) passes are $17.

While being stationed at JBLM, the Boeing Factory Tour is a great attraction to check out. The kids will love it, as well as any engineering enthusiast in the group. For a great day out, visit the museum, then head to downtown Seattle for lunch or some additional sight-seeing. With this opportunity right in our back yard, make sure not to miss it.

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