Saturday, April 23, 2005


Part of our Pacific Northwest vacation was spent appeasing my inner geek by taking a tour of the Boeing manufacturing plant in Everett, Washington. Not only would I get to be able to see how airplanes are constructed (I've wanted to be an aeronautical engineer when I was little), but perhaps I might find some insight as to why the windows in airplanes are placed below eye level.

It really makes no sense that one has to duck down in order to see out of the window of any commerical passenger airplane that I've been in, whether it be manufactured by Boeing, McDonnel-Douglas, or even Airbus.

Anytime we fly over something interesting, I have to duck down and contort my body in already cramped quarters in order to get a glimpse. Forget trying to get my camera out of my carry-on bag to take pictures. That's asking way too much. As I'm sitting there with my head between my knees, face plastered to the plastic window, peering out the window at something on the ground that I can barely make out, I often wonder what these aeronautical engineers were thinking when they designed the planes in this style.

Perhaps the engineers unreasonably thought that only children would enjoy looking out of airplane windows and thus placed the windows at the eye level of a seated 11 year old. Or, perhaps the low window height is for the benefit of the person sitting in the aisle seat, which would allow for easy angled viewing of the ground and horizon from the far seat, without the contorting and twisting and ducking. Maybe this, maybe that.

Whatever the reason, the tourguide never mentioned it during the 80 minute tour. So that will remain a mystery. However, we did do some cool things like walking in a not-so-secret underground tunnel and watching some workers put the fuselage onto the main body. We did have to tolerate 2 lame promo movies and even more lame puns delivered with no sense of timing or humor by the tourguide, but overall, a great way to spend a rainy morning in Seattle.