Last weekend I flew out to Seattle to attend a press event hosted by Lufthansa (more on that in a future post) and as part of my trip I made sure to build in a significant time to watch Boeing’s newest creations take off and land at Paine Field (PAE). This was my first trip to the Boeing Mecca and it exceeded every expectation. The cherry on top of the trip was the VIP level tour that was arranged by Boeing’s Communications Group which consisted of 1.5 hours of being driven around the entire main factory in a golf cart, gaining sneak peaks at the newest 747-8’s, 777’s and even a rare peak at the very 1st 787-9 that is nearly complete.
Aside from the fantastic tour, I had made sure to camp out at the Future Of Flight Observation Deck as well as their parking lot for 8-10 hours a day hoping to get some fantastic shots. I want to take this opportunity to thank them for there fantastic hospitality and letting me spend all that time there!
The Boeing traffic at Paine is unpredictable and many flights are scheduled or cancelled at the last minute. Unfortunately it makes it tough for them to publish a timetable but it does create an environment where every arrival or departure is a pleasant surprise.
In all, I spent 3 days at Paine, logging 8-10 hours each day and the effort was well worth it. I had booked my room at the Hilton Garden Inn located directly next to the Future Of Flight center, and with a room facing the airfield I was never more than a few hundred yards away from the action. Each day had approximately 7-10 take offs or landings and all of them were of new aircraft being tested and certified by Boeing. It may not be the 1 arrival per minute rate we see at LAX but in this case the quality made up for the lack of quantity.
The Future of Flight facility is a great place for plane spotting thanks to their observation deck as well as a parking lot that has tall mounds near the fence-line of the airport that allow for unencumbered views of Runway 16R/34L, which is the primary runway used for Boeing aircraft.
I’ll break up the “Paine” spotting into 3 posts, each covering a specific day. The following images were taken on August 8.