What’s Boeing On? See Ya 2018-

This was going to begin like “Seinfeld”: a blog about nothing, Turns out, there’s a story from our “Sleepy in Seattle” trip.

The Year that Flew By & the Jetliners that Made it Happen

Robert Plant recorded a song with Alison Krauss a few years ago by the title “Gone, Gone, Gone.” That’s exactly how I feel about 2018. Do you recall as a child or younger person hoping for Christmas, Halloween, Summers & birthdays to get here? I can still hear my grandmothers, both of them, saying “Don’t wish your life away.” The statement’s irony manifests at some point along the journey. We go from wishing we were older to wishing we could be a little younger. While I have no desire to be any younger, it would be awesome for time to slow down….just a little bit.

With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas and New Year’s season, it’s been like being in a time warp. I have felt like Marty McFly speeding through time. On December 26th reality hit at 6:45 am when my youngest son and I boarded the 5 hour & 55 minute flight to Seattle-Tacoma and realized there were not seat back screens. Yes, the reality that it’s just another crappy American Airlines flight stung. These people should never have used the term “Something special in the air.” I’m remained prayerful they would keep us in the air and not drop us plummeting toward the earth.

As if it were not horror enough that they eliminated SkyMall, now passengers are left with the AA magazine filled with things like: Top 10 Steakhouses, Nation’s 10 Best Plastic Surgeons, dating service ads for busy professionals, and $ 3.5 million and up condo high rise ads on Miami Beach. As long as they keep the Biscoff cookies I think I can cope….right Daniela Spearman?

My jet setting friends Michael, Noel & Eileen will empathize with me. Angela may laugh remembering the June ‘18 article I posted to her social media about AA shrinking bathroom size on new planes to accommodate 12 additional seats on certain models. Before long you will have to be a Taebo, Beach Body, or PX90 aficionado to be able to pee on a plane….in a plane I should say? To quote Angela’s social media response: “Why do they hate us???”

While I realize these are first world problems, having a teenager as a travel partner with neither earbuds nor visual entertainment…..let’s just say the pain is real!

Here’ What Been Boing On

(Full scale mock up of an International Space Station capsule. They used this one to train astronauts and to get used to zero gravity. I, of course, took my son’s challenge to pose like a dork).

As part of my youngest son’s 18th birthday, we’ve been hanging out in Seattle & Vancouver. While it may not sound like a bucket list thing, he and I did one of mine this trip and headed to Everett, Wa. to the Boeing plant. Despite what American Airlines does to frustrate passengers, Boeing’s premier approach to aviation technology sets standards among its industry competitors.

Consider some of the fun stuff we learned:

  • Bill Boeing founded his company in 1916…just thirteen years after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.
  • The Everett, Wa. Campus features the world’s largest building. At 98.3 acres under a single roof you could encompass all of Disneyland and still have 12 acres left over for parking. The expanse of this place is simply indescribable.
  • Boeing is the United States’ largest producer of exported goods. On the day we toured we viewed $ 8.0 billion of aircraft under construction.
  • Boeing began only 63 years prior to man walking on the moon. From any perspective it’s safe to call that a quantum technological leap. Today’s generation is born into knowing the ease of getting onto an airliner and being on the other side of the globe within 24 hours. Boeing engineers believe that we’ll be able to travel the same distance in two (2)….yes that is TWO hours in the foreseeable future. Please note: security will still take seven hours.
  • A cool $403 mil gets you a new 747. Boeing produces only 6 per year…that fact truly surprised me. This price….also the sticker price…is not what anyone or any company pays.
  • A coat of paint adds 1000 lbs to finished weight.

(These next four images are from Google. Boeing will not let people take phones into the production & tour area. It’s not because of security. It’s because if a device gets dropped on the aircraft, then it can compromise the safety of the finished product. A tourist dropped an iPhone a couple of years back and it was $307,000 mistake).

From Airplanes to Space (Needles)

It’s a cool thing to have visited the top of the Seattle Space Needle originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The first time I did this was in 2003 with my bride when we were visiting friends, Pam & Ron, when he was there (the Fred Hutchinson Center) for a bone marrow transplant. As we were waiting to board the monorail to get to the needle, our friend Bertha called to tell us that our friends, Katie & Brandon Dirks had welcomed their son, Baxter, into the world the night before. This also happened be the day the U.S. invaded Iraq.

I didn’t think about it when we saw the space needle, but in 1962 humans had not even been to the moon. For all you conspiracy theorists…it happened…it was not a Stanley Kubrick cinematic stunt. For skeptical North Carolinians; get a clue: Steph Curry is an NBA player, not an astrophysicist. Let’s keep perspective (reference to Curry’s recent media proclamation that the lunar landing never actually occurred).

Being at the Space Needles reminds one of Epcot or The Jetsons. My son said it looked like something from Star Wars inside (noting the very recently upgraded and installed glass floor making 30 minute revolutions at the top 520′ in the air).

Honestly, I could blah…blah…blog on. Therefore, let me conclude this abruptly and leave you with a thought:

Here’s to the New Year. 2019 with its promises, its lessons, its blessings and its challenges are upon us. Here’s to the blessing of family, of friends, of memories to be made. And finally…happy birthday to you, Pierce Gregory “Baboon” Withrow. As your granddaddy would say: “I love you and I’m on your side.”

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