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An Aviation Weekend in the Aviation District

Above me, the distinct sound of airplanes soaring through the air follows me from Mukilteo to Everett.

Sometimes it’s a light hum, other times deeper roar. No matter which sound it is, my eyes are ever glancing upward hoping to catch a glimpse of those modern winged marvels. At times, it seems as if they are guiding me from one museum to the next as I explore the Paine Field Aviation District.

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At the area’s premier aviation attraction, the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, I’m one of 320,000 annual visitors to join the 90-minute Boeing Tour to see Boeing 747, 767, 777, and the 787 Dreamliners being assembled in the factory.

Tip: Required height is four feet. The tour is hands-free, and no cameras or phones are allowed.

On the bus ride to the factory, I discover some interesting facts. The factory building is the largest in the world. It is so big that Disneyland could fit inside it and still have 12 acres left over for parking! Another is that with 35,000 employees this location operates like a mini-city. It has its own fire department, security service, and bank. Plus, there are multiple cafeterias, day care services, shuttle service and tricycles to ride around the massive complex. And, the first four doors are the size of a football field, and the last two doors also include the end zones. Inside, we gaze down at the planes in various stage of assembly.

There are many complimentary visitor experiences at the Future of Flight Center. Visitors and photographers line up outside on the grassy hill to take in views of the new Boeing aircraft as they set out on their test flights. Visitors to the center can also enjoy the runway from the top of the Strato Deck rooftop. Both are offered for free.

STAY

Hilton Garden Inn North Seattle
8401 Paine Field Blvd

Right next to the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, is the Hilton Garden Inn North Seattle. The modern hotel has plenty of amenities including a pool, fitness room, free WiFi, complimentary hot buffet breakfast in the morning, and the restaurant opens daily for lunch, dinner, and drinks. Another perk, is that guests can see the runway day or night and attractions are only minutes away. There is even a Future of Flight Package that includes two tickets for the Boeing tour.

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High Trek Adventures & Ziplines

11928 Beverly Park Road

At the end of my journey, I take to the skies, but not on a plane. I wobble on ropes bridges and brave balancing 50 feet off the ground at High Trek Adventures & Ziplines. This ropes course has over 60 challenges, three levels of difficulty, and is entirely self-guided. When I get to the zip line, a Dreamlifter glides above me. I launch myself down the track, and for a moment we sail together.

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Happy Hour

Happy Hour on the Strato Deck

Not wanting my time in the Aviation District to end, I head to happy hour on the Future of Flight Aviation Center Strato Deck. With a cold beverage in hand, I join other plane lovers. We sip our drinks in the sunshine and listen to radio tower communications coming through the loudspeaker. When that distinct hum fills the air, our eyes go upward, searching for those sleek flying machines soaring in the sky.

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Lara Dunning
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