This post is the second in the series I am writing on my trip to Microsoft Build in Seattle. Recently I posted about Day 1 and my arrival and today I will discuss what I got up to on Day 2, planes!
Mitch had kindly bought us tickets to the Boeing Factory Tour up in Everett, north of Seattle so task one for the day was getting over to his hotel in Redmond so we could drive up there. I looked up how to get there and bus it is!
Getting a bus of course meant I needed money so I withdrew my first $ from an ATM. As a CDA, my friend Jim Bennett is used to travelling to the US and he said that these days, it costs less to withdraw money than it does to visit a travel exchange in the UK and swap £ for $ so I trusted him on this and it proved to be right. So if you are ever looking to do the same, have a quick look first at which will be the most cost effective for you based on your bank.
I packed the basic essentials and headed off to the bus stop. The bus arrived early so I hopped on. I was all prepared to put my money in the machine and get a ticket when the driver just gestured me to get on. No idea why to this day but who am I to turn down a free 45 minute bus ride! Well I say 45, it turned into more like well over an hour due to some road closures in Downtown. The trip over towards Redmond was gorgeous though once you got out of the city. I was very blessed with the weather.
Sadly due to the delays on my bus, we missed our original slot for the factory tour so we had to book on a later one but the availability wasn't until much later. However Jim had landed from the UK by this point and was at his hotel near my hotel so Mitch invited him to join us which was awesome! I speak to Jim a lot but don't always get to see him much so knowing another Xamarin expert and lover was joining us was great. We took some time out on a viewing deck overlooking the runway then grabbed some lunch while Jim caught a Lyft (another Uber type company) over to where we were.
We weren't allowed phones or cameras on the tour as it is a working factory so they don't want anything being leaked so I have no photos to share with you but it was a really cool tour. We had an intro video then caught a bus over to the first part of the factory where the Boeing 747-8 are built.
Due to the age of this part of the site, the work is still done manually even at times you would prefer a computer because it is simply not set up to work automated. But I learnt about how some of the planes are used (passenger flight, cargo or refuelling planes for US Air Force) and also about the assembly process. As you can imagine, the whole process of assembly is quite involved as you have a bunch of tiny and giant objects that all need to go together perfectly or you are risking life! I also saw a table tennis table in the factory which it transpires is for exercising the shoulders, elbows and wrists as the staff can get stiff.
Once we had seen that part of the factory, we were then back on the bus to get to the factory at the other end of the same building (it can fit 90 American Football pitches inside or something crazy!) so we could see the factory for the Boeing-787 Dreamliners. This part of the complex is newer so it is much more automated. There are cranes and the plane sections move slowly on their own along with sets of tools as part of the process.
Not only did we get to see that but our tour guide Vanessa talked us through the painting process (the painting building is out of bounds due to the chemicals). We also got a close up of the new tinting windows which replace the old fashioned blinds so when the blinds would normally be down like on a night flight, you can just darken the windows so you can still see out. The windows are also much bigger than before so I bet flying on a Dreamliner must be awesome.
Once we had done the tour it was late afternoon so Mitch took us on a drive down the I5 to the south of Seattle towards the airport-ish so we could see some new parts of Seattle/Washington.
Jim and I then caught a Lyft from Bellevue back to his hotel where I walked back to mine as we were both still suffering from jetlag and he had dinner plans with some of his colleagues.
That was that really, end of Day 2 in Seattle. I am sorry I couldn't share more photos from my visit to the factory but it was an awesome day where I learnt lots including chatting about planes and all things Xamarin with two friends who also love it as much as I do. See you for day 3!