Aviation Geekfest 2013 – The People

While I’ve told you about the many attractions you get to see at AGF13. What was the biggest attraction? Simple, The People.

I mentioned at the start of this set of posts that I have come to appreciate smaller locally planned events. Previous events like Northern Voice and WordCamp Victoria are good examples. The smaller size of an event with 100–200 people is probably a part of it but it isn’t the whole story.

Having a sense of common interest plus an exciting event helps alot too. You can feel connected to the event. This is my second year with this event and we are meeting up with people we’ve know for a sum total of a few hours – face to face time. Yet in the first 30 seconds that completely melts away.

This is where the ‘Geek’ part really kicks in. There is a passion and a desire to share that makes simply looking at airplanes so much more. Whehter it is trading stories about our favorite avation blog with my good firend @jetcitystar or getting musuem tips from @PlaneInsight or hearing about the world of helicopter training with @theninjapilot. And that was just over breakfast.

Then there’s Greg from New York, apparently they don’t have Dairy Queen back there. Trading airline stories with a couple of ex-Delta guys from Houston. We didn’t get to talk to the folks from Norway but I wished we had.

If you don’t believe me take a look at what @bigmalx says about the people.

Then there are the people that volunteer at the museums that we visited. These are also a group of people that brought enthusiasm and enjoyment to the weekend.

There was Owen the Docent from the Museum of Flight who had an impressive aviaton resume of this own. We talked Reno Air Races and other Air Shows. He had some great stories of his own from his post-PATCO career changes to working on getting planes for the Paul Allen Collections.

Then there was Bob working on restoring the DeHavilland Comet. Obvioyusly working hard on the meticulous work required of a restoration project. There is serious skill and determination in the work but there is also a desire to share

There was the nice lady from the Historic Flight Foundation that took us through the history of the DC–3 on the ramp. Right down to its restoration at Sealand Aviaiton in Campbell River.

So many connections courtesy of so many people. Your social media is okay, but it is the people in the end that make experiences truly great. Iwf it is a murder of crows, and a pride of Lions, then it should be called a Fest of Geeks.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

Aviation Geekfest 2013 – The Other Bits

In addition to the main events of AGF13 David managed to get some other benefits for this years attendees. Saturday included admission to most of the aviation attractions. The Museum of Flight has a restoration centre] at Paine field that works on the aircraft that will eventually end up in the muesum at Boeing Field. This facility was only open on Saturday but showed some of the meticulous work that creates the displays you see elsewhere. In a nice twist one of the projects is the restoration of a dehavallind Comet 4C The first commercial jetliner that beat the jets from Puget Sound to market by all–most 5 years. So seeing that British jet in the heart of Boeing country was a bit of a surprise. We had a great conversation with Bob who was working on the restoration.

The two other private collections on Paine Field added more to the ultimate AvGeek weekend. These also came with our AGF tickets which added more to the value for the money. But I tossed some money in the basket at all the sites anyway.

The Flying Heritage Collection has some of the most unique flying examples of classic WWII aircraft. I one room you can see 3 aircraft that don’t exist anywhere else and 4 more that have no other airworthy examples. Several have a Canadian connections, the best story is probably the Hurricane which was manufactured by Canada Car in Port William (Now Thunder Bay), was recovered from a field in Ontario,and is now painted in the colors of 135 Sqdn RCAF based at Patricia Bay (now Victoria International). The Docent at FHC was kind enough to point out the RCAF markings and the local connection. Very much in keeping with the rest of the weekend it is the conversations that are as valuable as anything.

The other stop is a smaller but also noteable collection called Historic Flight Foundation. having a smaller group of aircraft it also has some spectacular examples of WWII vintage. This collection lets you get up close and personal to the aircraft. No climbing on the planes but sticking a camera inside a Spitfire or Mustang cockpit isn’t a problem. Again one of the museum staff was kind enough to take us on the ramp and into their restored DC–3. Another little Canadian Connection here with a little restoration help on the DC–3 for Sealand Avation in Campbell River.

What makes FHC and HF truely noteable to the AvGeek is the flying state of all the aircraft. At FHC there are oil pans under the aircraft and at HF the B–25 had the cowlings off and was getting engine work done. Appreciating a fine museum example of a rare aircraft is one thing but seeing that these fine flying machines are still able to do what they were designed for, namely fly, gives it a little more reality. To me a couple drops of oil under a Big radial engine or some hydronic fluid from a flag actuator means that these planes are still planes and not a movie prop.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

Aviation Geekfest Day Two

Our second day at AGF13 started by a group breakfast organized by our friend Issac @jetcitystar I expect this will find a regular spot in our AGF weekend plans in the future. We had about 11 out for brunch to Bob’s Burger & Brew a short distane from Paine Field. While different people had different times for tours it really helped kick off the day.

We took a look at two other aviation museums at Paine Field before the main event at Future of flight. That added to our trip to the Museum of Flight restoration center on Saturday. So one trip to Everett will get you four prime aviation attractions.

I’ll leave the other museums to a seperate post as they deserve a discussion on their own. For us the main event kicked off about noon with the gathering of our group at the Future of Flight. The folks at the Future of Flight are great supporters of AGF and it would not do to not mention Sandy and all the good folks who help David @airlinereporter get this event happening each year.

The buses took us over to a non-descript Boeing building north of the field. The inside is anything but. This is the Dreamliner Gallery where airlines come from all over the world to deside on whats going inside that $200 Million airplane they just bought, or in many cases the many Billions they just spent on multiple planes. So this isn’t your car dealers showroom. It is designed with both Boeing’s customers experience in mind and attempting build the brand for the 787 that the airlines will carry to the public. Its clear Boeing believes this is a different type of plane. The windows, the pressurization features, the lighting and the ‘architecure’ of the interior are all intended to break the aluminum tube metaphor of flying.

There was extensive discussion of the curved lines, the soft colors, and all those little cresent shapes. It is suprising how much airliners are customized for each airline, right down to the color of the buttons on the coffee makers. Each item having a different part number and adding to the complexity of making it all work together. There was alot of discussion about the need to come to a much smaller parts list to make the dreamliner a cheaper operating airplane.

After an extensive tour of the Dreamliner Gallery we headed back to the Future of Flight for the Everett Factory Tour. Like the 737 factory this is a no pictures allowed tour so all I can tell you is I was there and its REALLY big.

The plant originally built for the 747 production now holds the 747, 767, 777, and 787. The 777 and 787 lines are the most active with the 747 and 767 production on modest build rates. It will get a bit of a boost with the KC–46A which will take over the balance of the 767 space shortly.

Again the Dreamliner is the biggest star of the factory to be sure. The alumium airframes are still being put together but the carbon fibre frame of the 787 is very clearly a different thing. While I can’t show you the pictures of the factory, it would amaze you to see how clean and well ordered everything is. A little more of that Kasan inspired efficiency.

So in a tour full of big numbers probably the biggest to me was 45,000. The number of people that work at the Everett plant both on the line and in supporting positions. That is a decent size town in itself, coffee shops (Tully’s), dry cleaners, movie rentals.. wait someone still has movie rental stores? Go figure!

The final event for AGF was the Pizza and Beer back at the Future of Flight gallery. This included the prize draws with the top prizes being a couple of tickets from Southwest Airlines. Again the support from Boeing, Future of Flight, and other sponsors was awesome. We walked away with a pretty cool Boeing calendar and a $20 gift card that we used the next day at the Boeing Store.

So how good it AGF? Well one of the folks at our table was a Boeing employee who brought his wife out for AGF because it was the best way for her to see the factory. He also shared a cool bit of trivia, the customers of the 787 do actually get keys. Not to start the airplane but they do get between 4 and 12 depending on the interior fit and the lockable feature.

The things you learn at Aviation Geek Fest! Can’t wait to learn more next year.

With thanks to our hosts please visit:

Aviation GeekFest 2013 Day One

Our second trip to the Aviation Geekfest AGF13 which expanded to a two day event this year. Organized by David Parker Brown @aviationreporter and the Future of Flight @futureofflight

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.

That ended Day One but this was barely an opener for the big day ‘up north’ at Paine Field and the Future of Flight

With thanks to our hosts please visit: