At the 80th anniversary celebration of Boeing Field, scores of attendees enjoyed a sunny day at the iconic Seattle airport.
The big moment had arrived and the crowd watched in excitement: Mark Kirsch, strapped to a Boeing 767, was about to drag the 200,000 pounds of metal and fuel down the runway at Boeing Field.
He pulled and he pulled, the Saturday crowd’s anticipation rising, his muscles bulging — then the strap broke. And strongman Kirsch went stumbling.
So he tried again, but the plane wouldn’t budge.
“Well, so much for that,” groaned a man in the crowd.
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While the festivities got off to a rocky start at the 80th anniversary celebration of Boeing Field, that didn’t keep scores of people from enjoying a sunny day at the Seattle airport.
The site, originally cleared for farming, was officially made an airport in 1928. In its early years, the King County facility was used by the postal service as a major hub for moving packages between Seattle and Los Angeles. During World War II, Boeing used it to build B-17 bombers.
Today, the airport handles some 300,000 takeoffs and landings a year, for commercial and business aviation along with aircraft production.
The celebration offered a chance to take a closer look at a site that’s served as a center for economic growth in the region.
“It’s a great thing to get the public out here,” said Leslie Barstow, a spokeswoman for King County International Airport, its official name. “Even if you get just one kid’s interest sparked to learn how to fly.”
Much of the day’s events focused on raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, a one-on-one youth-mentoring organization. Organizers estimated a fundraising total of roughly $100,000 for the day.
“People get to see a lot of our [mentors and mentees] out here today, and they see how important our work is,” said Tina Podlodowski, the organization’s CEO and a former Seattle City Council member.
The celebration’s major draw was “The Big Plane Pull,” in which teams of 20 or so fundraisers tried to outdo the strongman by latching onto the long rope attached to the 767 and dragging the massive aircraft as far as they could.
A group sponsored by Cannon Construction, in Milton, Pierce County, was the first to have a go.
As Jim Zellner, a 38-year-old Olympia resident, took his position along the rope, he seemed optimistic.
“Feeling good, feeling good,” he shouted. “Feeling strong!”
After a botched attempt, Zellner’s team got the aircraft rolling some 13 feet.
Zellner, arms up in victory, was elated.
“I’m hurting now, but it feels good because this is for a good cause,” he said.
As for Kirsch, the strongman, he finally got the big jet rolling on a third attempt.
Still, he seemed disappointed.
“I could have done more preparation,” Kirsch said.
Robert Faturechi: 206-464-2393