The Institute of Flight is losing its Paine Field home for its displays of airplane parts. Here's your chance to score some full-size sections of jet aircraft — if you can pay to haul them away.
Sure, you own a 20,000-square-foot megamansion after cashing in on that IPO. Now you need to decorate it.
How about these one-of-a-kind objets d’art?
There’s a nearly-life-size model of a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 turbofan jet engine, the type that powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Even at 90 percent scale, it comes in at about 10 feet in a diameter. The blades even spin after you plug it into an electric outlet.
That’ll impress guests at your next party.
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Or a 40-to-50-foot nose from a Boeing 727.
And 10-foot-high landing gear from a Boeing 777, with twin tires each a little under 4 feet in diameter.
Those are the big, big airplane parts available for the discerning collector in this unusual liquidation.
And you might have them for $1 each, although there is a hitch: The cost of hauling them away. For that, prepare to spend a few tens of thousands of dollars.
The smaller items, like a 5-foot “Magic Planet interactive,” that projects with a special lens into a big sphere, could fit into a minivan.
The reason for the sale is Boeing, which has long leased a portion of the Paine Field building that houses the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, will now lease the entire building. This means the Institute of Flight, which has displayed numerous aviation items in a cavernous hall, will no longer have a home.
Before, Boeing used the waiting area in the large building, and the exhibits were run by the nonprofit Institute.
Snohomish County, which owns the building, decided the exhibits were, basically, too boring.
Now Boeing will be taking over the entire building, saying it hasn’t “finalized” its plans.
The plant tour will not change.
Arif Ghouse, director of the county’s airport at Paine Field, hinted at the Future of Flight’s future when he told The Seattle Times in February, “People who come here are absolutely blown away by the Boeing tour. The rest of the building, not so much.”
Asked whether Ghouse’s comment stung, Jeff Van Dyck, director of the institute, said, “Yeah, they did.”
He cites the center’s efforts, such as the various hands-on exhibits, and even the Friday 3 to 7 p.m. Happy Hour with food and drinks on the building’s “Strato Deck.”
But it’s tough, when your exhibits are mostly static objects, and we live in a short-attention culture in which you have two to three seconds to pull someone in.
Earlier this month, the county signed a letter of intent with Boeing, saying the “partnership comes at a perfect time,” with Paine Field set to have a commercial air terminal next year.
As of Oct. 11, the institute is out of the exhibit business and will close shop.
Says Van Dyck, “What Boeing wants, Boeing gets,” especially in a county dependent on so many jobs from the firm.
Now he and Peter Bro, director of the exhibits, are in the process of sorting what will happen to them all.
Some items, like two Glasair planes hanging from the ceiling, were on loan. Those planes are being returned to the Museum of Flight.
Van Dyck says its 30 employees have been told they can apply for positions once Boeing takes over. He and Bro say they’ll go onto other things, freelance work, something.
As for objet d’art collectors, there’s that 40- to 50-foot-long nose from a Boeing 727 at a minimal price, Van Dyck says.
The 727 was designed to service smaller airports with shorter runways. In its history of the jetliner, the company states, “Of all the early Boeing jets, the 727 had the most distinctive appearance, with its rakish T-shaped tail and its trio of rear-mounted engines. It carried billions of passengers on everything from short hops to cross-country flights.”
In its 22-year run that began in 1962, the 727 series had a production run of 1,832, the first commercial airplane to break the 1,000-sales mark.
This particular plane nose is a nice, shiny piece, with an “Eastern” logo. That’s the historic airline that ceased operation in 1991, and was the first one to fly a 727.
The plane made its maiden flight for Eastern in 1967 and was a workhorse for its owners.
In 1981, FedEx bought the plane, took out the seats and turned into cargo delivery, naming the aircraft “Marcella.” It was retired from service in 2004 and then used for parts in a restoration project.
Then the nose was repainted in the original Eastern colors and donated to the Future of Flight center.
“We’d sell it for as little as $1,” Van Dyck says.
In the small world of institutions or individuals who might be interested, he says, it’s the cost of hauling the thing that is the biggest factor.
Somebody in Boston was interested, until getting an estimate of $50,000 to move it across the country.
The big jet parts even come with nice explanation boards.
The signs with the 10-foot 777 landing gear explain that it’s one of the largest for a twin-engine, twin-aisle aircraft.
“The wonders of aircraft tires,” one of the boards explains. “The moments immediately after the touchdown of an aircraft, where typically there will be clouds of smoke and a piercing screech will be given off on the runway, seems somewhat dramatic. It looks worse than it really is.”
Van Dyck ponders junking this now-unwanted piece of aerodynamics.
“It’s got a lot of titanium,” he says.
At least a recycling yard will want it.