On December 16, 2005, the Future of Flight Aviation Center at Paine Field in Mukilteo opens its doors to the public. With an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches by Governor Christine Gregoire and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, the $23.5 million facility is announced as a public-private nonprofit partnership between the Snohomish County Public Facilities District, Snohomish County via the Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field), The Boeing Company, and the Future of Flight Foundation. Launched as an extension of the Boeing Tour, the Future of Flight Aviation Center presents a look at past, present, and future cutting-edge aviation technology.
Celebrating Aviation Technology
Speaking to the press before the official opening, executive director Barry Smith pointed out that the Future of Flight Aviation Center would not be another aviation museum filled with old artifacts, nor would it mirror Boeing’s Museum of Flight. Instead its mission would be to educate both children and adults about the future of aviation and about significant technical innovations made in the past.
Although the center primarily looks back and projects ahead 50 years, there are earlier inclusions such as a drawing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s turbo game roaster powered by chimney smoke and the earliest known entertainment-in-flight, a showing in 1925 of the original silent film Lost World.
The Future of Flight building was designed by Freiheit and Ho of Bellevue and Krei Architecture of Seattle. It is 73,000 square feet in size with a 28,000 square foot aviation gallery that exhibits airplanes, plane parts, digital movie displays, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can even try designing an airplane. Flight innovations through time are presented in categories that cover innovations in materials, passenger experience, manufacturing, propulsion, flight systems, and future concepts.
A Focus on Boeing
The center presents technological advances of many companies, but not surprisingly its focus is on Boeing and the new Dream Liner 787. The Future of Flight Center offers a tour of the Boeing assembly plant as part of the visit. This is presently the only tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America.
Regarding the connection between Boeing and the Future of Flight Aviation Center, Marketing Director Sandy Ward said to a crowd, “We have several pieces of the 787 inside our building, so we’re celebrating that it’s all together now” (Ward). On July 25, 2007, the Future of Flight Center welcomed its 250,000th visitor, an average of more than 1,000 people daily from all over the world.