Fasten your seatbelts, make sure your seatbacks are in their full upright position and prepare to journey through the thrilling world of aviation.
The Puget Sound region is home to two premier flight museums that aim to educate and inspire young minds. The Museum of Flight in Seattle and the Future of Flight Center and Boeing tour in Mukilteo offer two unique encounters with aviation for families to experience. Extraordinary exhibits, grand galleries and awe-inspiring aircraft await you!
View a jet assembly line
The Future of Flight Center is home to the Boeing tour and an extensive collection of aviation artifacts. Explore the gallery, take the tour and visit the observation deck for a spectacular view of the runway - and a chance to catch a glimpse of the jets. The technical nature of the material and the Boeing tour's 4-foot minimum height requirement make this experience suitable for tweens and older children.
The 90-minute Boeing tour, the only commercial aviation jet tour in North America, offers a bird's-eye view of the Everett production line, which includes aviation heavyweights: the 747, 767, 777 and the in-production 787. Visitors see airplanes in various stages of assembly and testing. While walking through part of the largest building by volume in the world, tour participants can observe the efficiency and speed used to assemble the massive flying machines.
Junior engineers can try their hand at airplane design by visiting one of the computer kiosks in the gallery. Learn a practical lesson in key aviation principles and future design innovations while crafting a fun souvenir. Kids will enjoy creating their one-of-a-kind aircraft by choosing from a variety of fuselages, wings, engines and materials. At the end of your visit, stop by the Future of Flight store to pick up a free color print of the design.
Climb onto the Concorde
A trip to The Museum of Flight provides a rich lesson in aviation and space travel through its interactive displays. The impressive Great Gallery, a six-story glass-and-steel exhibit hall, contains 39 full-size historic aircraft of all sizes, 23 of which hang from the ceiling. The Museum of Flight has something for everyone, including a special area for little ones.
The Flight Zone has activities for kids of all ages, including the museum's pint-size patrons. Kids can imagine the freedom of flight by sitting in the cockpit and taking the controls in a real airplane, launching a hot air balloon or landing a hang glider. Preschoolers can participate in the fun by taxiing soft airplane toys on a runway floor mural by a miniature air traffic control tower.
The Airpark is just a short jaunt from the museum - not too far for little legs and definitely worth the walk. The Airpark is currently home to the first Air Force One, the first 747, the original 737, and the striking Concorde. Climb aboard Air Force One and the Concorde and tour aviation royalty.
Abbey McGee is an Everett-based freelance writer and mother of two toddlers.
This story originally appeared in the July, 2008 issue of ParentMap.
- Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour, 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo. 425-438-8100.
- Open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
- Tours begin at 9 a.m. and run every half-hour until 3 p.m.
- TIP: During the busy summer months, the Boeing tour is often sold out. To guarantee a spot, purchase advance tickets on the website or by calling the reservation center at 800-464-1476.