Aviation Fun and History in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is rich in aviation history, exhibits and home to the largest aerospace company in the world, The Boeing Company (Technically, it is now a Chicago based company but the heart is still in Seattle) and summer is the time to visit. For aviation enthusiasts there is an event or exhibit to visit almost every weekend during the blue sky weekends of May through August, here are my favourites:

Collings Foundation B-17 Flying Fortress

1. Museum of Flight. The Museum of Flight in Seattle is one of the best run aerospace exhibits I have visited and hosts aviation events throughout the year. The exhibit highlights include the Personal Courage Wing housing fighter aircraft from World War I and II, and the Great Gallery where you can explore aviation history. Memorial Day weekend the museum hosts these three great events:

The Aluminum Overcast: B-17 flight experience in this veteran warbird for $399.

Tuskegee Airmen who became German Prisoners of War, listen to the experiences of the Red-tailed fighters as told by the pilots themselves.

Cascade Warbird Fly-in, aircraft from World War II to Vietnam will grace the tarmac outside the museum.

2. Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour. Looking down on the factory floor, you have to remind yourself that the aircraft under construction are amongst the largest in the world despite being dwarfed in this massive facility. The tour is proceeding with presentations and exhibits on the future of flight and flight simulator ride but the heavy metal on the production line holds my attention longest.

3. Flying Heritage Collection.Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has many passions and the wealth to indulge them. The Flying Heritage Collection is his personal stable of historic aircraft, many restored to flying condition and exercised in the air on regular occasions. Currently located at Arlington Airfield, the collection is moving to Paine Field in late 2007. Tours are by appointment only.

4. Evergreen Aviation Museum. Home of the Hughes Hercules flying boat (Spruce Goose), the Evergreen Aviation Museum has a large collection of rare and unique aircraft.

5. Arlington Northwest EAA Fly-in. The second largest fly-in event in the USA, Arlington is less well known than Oshkosh but no less impressive for aviators. Fantastic home built aircraft sit along side warbirds and wide range of aviation products from books to your next aircraft kit.


Riding the Rails in Europe

Sandwich after sandwich disappeared in to the nun’s round belly, the Tuscan countryside whizzing past the window as we headed north. We left the train in Firenze (Florence), and as it crept out of the station realised our food still sat on the luggage rack. Our daughter giggled, ‘I bet that nun eats our food.’ I hope she did.

Train travel makes you relax, providing time to gather your thoughts, write your journal and prepare for the next destination. People seem friendlier without the constraints imposed by airlines, and the nausea of security lines to upset their travel karma.

Europeans enjoy a fast and efficient rail system and even the most inexperienced traveller can navigate the ticket machines and schedules with a little preparation. Rick Steves maintains a comprehensive guide on selecting and using your Eurail Pass. a must read before you go.

Sleeping on the train

European trains also provide a comfortable sleeping arrangement for overnight travel, a couchette is a basic bed in a shared compartment (4-6 people), a mobile hostel. We boarded the overnight train in Venezia (Venice) for Muenchen (Munich), stowed our bags and changed into our comfort clothes. A long day walking through Venice (we got lost, a must do in Venice) had prepared the family to sleep almost anywhere, and the cozy couchettes welcomed us to the land of nod.

We woke the next morning approaching Munich, left the train and stored our bags in a locker before a quick breakfast and heading off to Dachau fresh and ready to experience our first day in Germany.

Ride the rails on your next European adventure, and enjoy the leg room.


Travel Tech – Internet Travel Bookings (Airlines)

No matter how good your purchase price is, someone will get a better deal next week.

This small piece of wisdom should be printed on every receipt but open your mind to the subliminal message, the reason I quote it so often to travellers. A good price is still good even if someone gets a better deal, do not let another shopper’s good fortune ruin your enjoyment. Good advice when buying airline tickets online.

As your own travel agent, it is up to you to get the best airfare for your next trip, and these basic tips can help get you a great deal:

1. Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia provide a quick and easy way to review the market for your travel destination, and determine the median price.

2. Use Seat Guru to check out the airlines that service your route and select the ones that provide the level of service you require.

3. Check the airline’s own website, and see if they offer better prices there. I prefer to deal directly with an airline.

4. Sound Money Tips reports Wednesday night between midnight and 1am is supposed to yield the best deals but Wednesday in general is a good day to shop.

5. When you find an airfare less than the median price with a good airline, buy it.