Like recent local events I’ve attended such as WordCamp Victoria, this is a smaller scale event and the value of this over a big bang conference event is clear. The cost is modest, less than $100 for two people, and what you get for that cost is excellent. The other nice coincidence is that you attract a very social crowd. The real value of most conferences is the shared experience. That showed up clearly at AGF. I was meeting people for the second time and a year in between yet they are like old friends. Sure we might follow each other on twitter but there is a deeper connection. It really is a testament to the old phrase “these are my people” Don’t get me wrong the event itself is excellent but it just gets to another level because of these people.
The event started at Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. The event included entrance to the museum which was almost the paid for the ticket by itself. You take into account the long lineup for tickets at MoF on the long Modelers Show weekend the AGF13 deal was priceless.
The bus ride over to Renton was provided to tour the 737 lines. This is not a public tour facility so this was extra special for aviation geeks like us. The production rate at Renton is more than a plan a day with the goal of getting over 40 a month. The complications include the limited space at the Renton plant, the work on the P–8, the need to work in the 737 MAX production while pushing out the 737NGs, and apparently fuselage bodies arriving with bullet holes. The last problem, while sounding a bit like an urban myth, is a reality for the Boeing folks. The good news is that it isn’t so bad that it justifies armored rail cars to protect the airframes as they head across the wide open spaces of the Midwest.
I hadn’t seen Renton Municpal airport before. Considering they used to turn out B–29s, 707s, and 757s in addition to the complete history of 737s, it has a shockingly short 5300’ strip. The north end overrun area is kindly provided by south end of Lake Washington. Great for obstacle clearance no so good for high speed rejected takeoffs.
As with last year, it’s hard to go thought a Boeing presentation without the Toyota inspired Kansan principals of JIT supply lines and LEAN production. There is a lot of confidence that the 737 line can use these principals to both make higher production rates on the current models while moving towards the production of a new model. That might be considered pretty cocky in an airframer to manage such a transistor. But in the words of top gun… “That’s pretty arrogant, I like that in a pilot”.
If you want your own look at a 737 going togther see this Boeing Video
The trip to Renton ended and we headed back to the Museum of Flight for a look at the recently completed Space wing complete with the Space Shuttle trainer. The Museum of Flight also put on a private tour of the Personal Courage Wing which houses the WWI and WWII display. Owen our Peronsal Docent for the tour was a excellent guide and had enough aviation stories of his own to justify an hour long lecture. At all the meusems I learned the value of engaging in conversation with the Docents they add so much value to the experience. Even if you believe yourself to be a well read AvGeek they can teach you something.
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