Last weekend I attended an awesome event known as Aviation Geek Fest 2012. This was a hugely successful event organized by David Parker Brown (AirlineReporter.com), Future of Flight, and Boeing.
The day day started off at 8am with an aviation photography class lead by Liz Matzelle of the Pacific NorthWest Aviation Photographers. Liz got things off the ground by helping us critique several photo's which initially looked great to me. However, once our eyes were opened we truly had a glimpse of what the next level in our photographic future could be like. The class then progressed into the technical side of things resulting in how to select camera's, lenses and post processing software, with several money saving ideas and tips along the way. This lead to great discussion among rookies, such as myself, as well as more experienced photographers in the group, and provided an easy opportunity to connect with fellow "Geeks". I recommend this class to all as shooting aviation is a specialized skill in the world of photography.
After the class we convened for lunch and many of us went out on the stratodeck of the Future of Flight overlooking the north end of KPAE (Paine Field) airport in Everett, WA. The timing was perfect as one of the modified Boeing 747 cargo planes, the Dreamlifter, was taxiing out to the runway headed for Charleston, N.C. This, as always, is an awesome sight to behold. The close proximity to the runway allowed us to appreciate the great size and power of the Dreamlifter, which is used to transport 787 Dreamliner fuselages and wings. As it ran up its engines and commenced its departure we could hear the roar and feel the vibration which added to the thrill of the days event.
After lunch, and more networking, David Parker Brown kicked off the afternoon and we split into 4 groups leading off to different tours. One group took the Boeing factory floor tour. This is different from the regular Boeing tour which normally does not allow the public to get close to the airplanes. The tour does not allow electronic or photographic equipment on the premises but an official photo can be seen on the AirlineReporter website, among others. Another 2 groups toured either the Paine Field Fire Department, or "How to become an Airline Pilot" with Regal Air.
The remaining group, which I was in, toured the Boeing Dreamliner Gallery (pictured above). This was indeed a fabulous treat. This Gallery is not well known and not open to the public usually. The Gallery is a place for 787 Dreamliner customers to choose the equipment for their planes while providing inspiration for the overall design. As seen in the photo the entrance of the gallery is amazing. The Dreamliners logo is that of a crescent shaped moon and this feature is subtly placed in almost every feature in the architecture and decoration of this facility. This takes marketing to a whole new level as the customer is actually embraced into the world of the Dreamliner. Luxurious suites are provided for the customer as a place to work, while affording comfort and access to conference facilities and showrooms. If a customer needs information, or even an engineer to discuss their requirements, Boeing will bring the resources to them without having to leave the facility. This is truly a customer oriented operation. The tour throughout the facility lead us through multiple showrooms for everything your 787 would need; carpet, fabrics, chairs for all classes - first through economy, galley equipment, safety equipment and even quarters for the flight attendants to rest during long haul flights. I have to say I tip my hat to Boeing for reinventing customer service on such a grand scale. At the end of the tour the groups reconvened at the Future of Flight (FoF) for a presentation by Boeing of their Moonshine (lean manufacturing) project. This was followed by a group participation in a supply chain demand demonstration consisting of building Aviation Geek Fest business card holders which were then given to all as gifts.
Finally it was time to close, but not before a pizza and beverage social in the FoF cafe hosted by David Parker Brown who was great fun. Little did we know that United Airlines, SouthWest Airlines, and the Future of Flight had donated multiple items for raffle. Everyone left with something, which was awesome, but I have to say, gifts or not, this was an event to remember and needs to be on your calendar for 2013. Thank you to AirlineReporter.com, Future Of Flight, Boeing, PNWAP, United, and SouthWest airlines for making this one outstanding and memorable 'flight'.