Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Saying Farewell to Seattle

My final day in Seattle was due to be the most work-related, so I got straight into my suit when I got up. It always feels weird to be eating porridge in the hostel kitchen with everyone else, while wearing work attire, and you can tell that people are querying what you are doing...

After checking out, I took the rail link to SeaTac airport, left my big bag at a storage facility (in hindsight, a good decision!) and then found a bus that would take me to my first company engagement. In the same way as all my other company visits, my host has genuinely bent over backwards to accommodate my visit - in this instance, delaying all the work that was waiting for him having just returned from a holiday! Also, my contact had actually prepared for our meeting, having put together a presentation for me about the products, the ethos, the development procedure and the market - all the stuff I'm interested in. We then headed over to a sandwich bar for lunch.

Earlier in the week, I had emailed this chap about my visit, and said that I was still looking for additional companies to visit. As a result, we had managed to set up a meeting with the president of another, much smaller company in the afternoon. Just as I was being dropped off from the first meeting, the chap for the second turned up and took me over to the Museum of Flight for our meeting! I was even more surprised when he paid for tickets for both of us and we spent an hour or so wandering around the exhibits, discussing both them and his own company. Yet another act of generosity from one of the many businessmen I have met here - and he wouldn't even let me buy him a coffee!

After he departed, I enjoyed another hour or so wandering around the exhibits. Some highlights were:

Shrink-wrapped B-29 bomber. Even the propellors! Presumably for transport?

Hooray for the UAVs!

The Perlan Project glider - record-breaking DG500, reached 50,727 feet AMSL in 2006.

I had no idea that Cosmonauts used to re-enter in a sphere?! That wouldn't seem very stable to me, though the burn pattern disagrees.

An entire hall full of cool aircraft. How many can you name? What's piggy-backing on the SR71?

The first jet-powered Air Force One

Cockpit of the above

The only Concorde on the West Coast. On my way into Seattle, some days ago, I noticed that we were flying over an airfield with an awful lot of interesting aircraft down below - including the unmistakeable silhouette of Concorde. At least the mystery of where that is has been solved!

Cockpit of the above.

This is the aircraft with the Wright R-3350 Turbocompound Engines! Though my final year project has probably exaggerated the significance of that claim...

Unfortunately, I was never able to visit the Tacoma Narrows Bridge during my trip (surely the aspiration of every Engineering student?). However, I understand that the bridge in question actually collapsed, so maybe there wouldn't be much there to see...

I then took another bus and the light rail link back to SeaTac, retrieved my bag and changed into comfy clothes, checked in, securitied in and went to get some food at the gate. I found myself sitting opposite another young chap, a solo traveller, who was a Seattlite on his way to Oxford to study politics for a semester as part of his degree. we had dinner together (my last chance to have some of Seattle's famous salmon, though I don't know which type!) and I gave him some advice about sites and cities he might want to see while he is in the UK. So with any luck he'll now be planning to get a young person's railcard, travelling to Edinburgh for a couple of days and staying in the YHA, purchasing a bicycle for his time in Oxford and going punting, visiting Stonehenge and Warminster (I might have hyped it up a little), Bath and Bristol. He'll go hiking in Snowdonia and sailing on the South Coast. Of course he'll visit London but I probably put him off going up the London Eye! Maybe I gave out a bit too much advice...

Our flight then boarded surprisingly early, I didn't see the time but I'm sure we took off early too. I bade Seattle farewell as it slipped underneath the wing of the 767, then settled down for the 12-hout flight. The plane was about half empty, so I had the luxury of an empty seat next to me and could spread out my stuff (and my body) to get as comfy as possible. A lovely woman called Ma Jun then came alongside and we had a chat and then some impromptu Mandarin tuition! I really hope that everyone in Beijing will be this friendly - though the air hostess has already proved that this won't be the case ;-)

Quite an empty flight. The aircraft wasn't very new though, nor clean, and only had the fold-down screens for in-flight entertainment! It was about half full.

Lovely extended sunset over Russia as we crossed the International Date Line and I set me watch from GMT-8 to GMT+8. There is no Daylight Savings Time in Beijing.

Posted by Picasa


  1. Hello Colin!
    Seems like you had having a fantastic time there! The museums look thoroughly interesting, especially Edwards AFB I had no idea that it could be visited. Keep it up and stay safe!


  2. Hi CJ - another much-awaited Blog for us to read. Really enjoying them - its great to feel part of the adventure. I am sure you really did not miss anything by not going to the Tacoma Bridge site - the new one was hardly going to put on a wobble for your benefit!!!

    You are a natural traveler.....head Tim's advice though.

    Much love, Dad

  3. Which Tim wrote before?

    Keep up the writting, enjoying the read.
    And DG 505!

  4. Which Tim wrote before?

    Keep up the writting, enjoying the read.
    And DG 505!

  5. I've finally got around to reading these last couple of Blog updates, looks like you couldn't have come off much better during your visits! The impromptu visit to the museum seemed like fun! What was the main seating area of Concorde like?

    Keep up the fantastic updates and I hope our system works alright!