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Full Circle

Day 236: Seattle to Vancouver

Michael Palin - Full CircleEverett is full of environments. The cafeterias which serve (here we go again) 17 000 meals a day, are immaculate and their 'Video-Scale' Computer Weight and Calorie Analysis machines and non-fat espressos help overweight employees in their desperate struggle to achieve the trimness so natural to those on the other side of the Pacific. There is a garden environment, where smokers, banished from the rest of the complex, go about their sordid business, and a reception environment, orderly and uncluttered, which contains one book. It's called The Art of Indonesia.

To someone who has spent many weeks of his life suspended above the earth in Boeing products, all this is immensely reassuring. Everything about Everett (or everything they let outsiders see) is clean and safe and carefully controlled. It's almost a shock to see the airliners themselves in the assembly process, wingless and sightless, the fuselage interior a naked aluminium and fibreglass shell, engines haemorrhaging coils and tubes. It all looks a bit indecent. But they are not long like this. Once the sections are delivered to Everett (mostly from the States but some from South Korea and Canada), a single 747 can be assembled in fifty working days. And a paint crew can cover the outside of a 747 in just forty-five minutes.

Before I leave Statisticville the enormously obliging people from Boeing give me a chance to crash one of their 737s. I'm given a choice of locations at which to do this. We choose Seattle. From where I sit on the darkened flight deck of my simulator, I can see the approach to the airport projected on the screen in front of me. The engine noise is switched on and an uncomfortably realistic impression of the network of bays and islands around Puget Sound appears 6000 feet below me.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 236
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Everett - Washington
  • Book page no: 308

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