[conspire] (OT) A year ago: Inigo Montoya tour

Tony Godshall apgodshall at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 23:01:00 PDT 2016

Thanks for sharing that. Wow.

On Aug 12, 2016 4:35 PM, "Rick Moen" <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> A year ago, Deirdre and I were privileged to take this extraordinary tour:
> https://milepoint.com/forums/threads/ffg-ua-july-2015-sea-
> mini-do-with-boeing.125077/
> Trip report follows (posted last year to a mailing list of frequent
> travellers, including background details for their benefit):
> ----- Begin forwarded message -----
> This is a story about time spans:  47 years, 59.2 seconds, a Saturday in
> December 1968, six years, another 47 years, and a Saturday this July.
> At 6:15 AM on Thursday, December 26, 1968, Pan American World Airways
> Captain Arthur Moen had First Officer Johannes Markestein apply takeoff
> thrust to Pan Am flight 799.  The plane was this beautiful Boeing
> 707-321C, the Clipper Racer:
> http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/pictures/b707-320c_pan-
> american_1964_321c_n799pa.jpg
> Captain Moen was 47 years old, a married father of two.  47 was as old
> as he was ever going to be:  59.2 seconds later, he and his crew of two
> were dead from ground impact -- victim of a known but unfixed
> manufacturing defect in the Boeing freight-transport jet.
> That Saturday morning, two strangers rang the Moen residence's doorbell.
> These were private detectives, arrived to dissuade Mrs. Moen from suing
> Boeing, by threatening further harm to her family.  Big mistake.  Turned
> out, this young widow didn't intimidate well.
> The three Pan Am widows immediately filed in Federal court.  Boeing
> stalled the court action for six years.  Dirty-tricks intimidation
> tactics were tried, none worked.  Long story short, on opening day of
> the trial in 1974, Boeing capitulated and settled on plaintiffs' terms.
> Arthur's 10-year-old son Rick grew up dreading Christmas season -- the
> anniversary -- and hating Boeing.
> Roll forward 47 years to this past Saturday.  That's a lot of years;
> all the principals are dead or long retired.  What sort of fanatic would
> hold a grudge for 47 years?
> Hi there.  My name is not Inigo Montoya, but I'm a Princess Bride fan.
> This past Saturday, my wife Deirdre and I flew up to Seattle to join a
> group of frequent flyers in two spectacular behind-the-scenes tours
> (https://milepoint.com/forums/threads/ffg-ua-july-2015-sea-
> mini-do-with-boeing.125077/)
> at Boeing Company's production plants in Everett and Renton, followed by
> a dinner inside Boeing's historic 1909 'Red Barn' original building,
> adjoining the Museum of Flight
> (http://www.museumofflight.org/event-space/red-barn).  As we circled
> Seattle for landing, I commented to Deirdre 'One does not simply fly
> into Mordor'.  The strangeness was beginning.
> Our group was picked up by two Boeing Company buses driven by helpful
> and pleasant bright young men in Boeing-branded light-burgundy company
> shirts.  ('Ah, redshirts', I said.[1])  The strangeness was increasing.
> I personally was indulging a private gag I've been sharing with Deirdre
> all of our marriage, that some day I'd go on the Boeing factory tour and
> sign in as 'Inigo Montoya'.  (Death by corporate negligence is blander
> and more bureaucratic than murder by sword thrust, but you're just as
> deceased.)
> Obviously, tight corporate security made that impossible, but tactical
> choice of t-shirt permitted the next best thing:
> http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Bride-Montoya-
> Heather-T-shirt/dp/B00TII2CJW%3Fpsc
> The kind redshirted employees drove us through tangled Seattle traffic
> (where are our flying cars, fellows?) to the Boeing plant in Everett,
> where all the larger models (787 Dreamliner, 747, 777, etc.) are
> manufactured.  Unlike the standard public tours, ours wasn't limited to
> looking down from public galleries; instead, we walked about a mile
> through the middle of the production floor.  Our very engaging guide had
> been a Boeing Company tour guide about 35 years; before that, she'd
> taught music in elementary school.  Even though not an engineer, she
> knew the answer to every question instantly.
> Everywhere, you saw signs of a very appealing company culture:  These
> are people who work hard on sound engineering and safety.  It's a
> firm that is based on real achievement and not just PR.  This is
> pocket-protector and sliderule America, the one I grew up in.
> I was reminded very much of the late Michael Crichton's novel
> _Airframe_, which I'm sure was based in large part on long hours spent
> among Boeing engineers.  http://www.michaelcrichton.com/airframe/
> The novel, fruit of Crichton's typically exhaustive research, describes
> the investigation of a commercial airline disaster based closely on a
> real incident, but paints an (accurate) picture of the industry as
> highly scrupulous and delivering a fantastically safe product.  You'd
> have to be very unlucky to be die from one.
> A passing employee inside the Everett plant noticed my t-shirt and said
> 'Hey, it's Inigo Montoya'.  I brightly replied 'Yes, it really is.  And
> you don't have six fingers.'
> This building is almost unfathomably large, so large that it's really
> difficult to keep a mental grasp on its scale.
> https://twitter.com/deirdresm/status/625022988979601408
> After we exited, Boeing catered our group with some nice boxed lunches,
> compliments of the company.  At this point, I'm starting to feel...
> let's call it gratitude with an asterisk.
> Next stop was the Boeing company store -- authentic company merchandise
> and collectibles.  http://www.boeingstore.com/  I was surrounded by a
> thick forest of prominently Boeing-branded t-shirts, bomber jackets,
> posters, pins, luggage,  airplane models, watches, books, refrigerator
> magnets, hats, sunglasses -- feeling a bit like Indiana Jones at
> a snake convention.  I was keeping a tight grip on myself, but unsure
> I'd be able to keep breathing.
> Deirdre showed me some nice leather jackets, suggesting I buy one.  I
> recalled to her that my late mother had said I'd look good in a
> WWII-style leather jacket and wanted to buy me one -- but I don't think
> she had in mind one saying 'Boeing' on the front.  Deirdre asked if I'd
> buy her a blue Boeing shirt.  I deferred the question.
> I joked that the DC-3 model[1] might make a nice purchase because it
> said 'Douglas' on it, but Deirdre didn't get my further implication.  A
> few minutes later, I voiced the bit she hadn't gotten:  'About that
> shirt: I never want to feel revulsion against you, and....'  She
> withdrew the request.
> We left.  I gradually felt as if I could breathe again.
> Another trip in the comfortable Boeing Company buses brought us to the
> Renton plant, small only by comparison, where the workhorse 737 commuter
> jet and similar models are cranked out very efficiently.  Again, we had
> an extremely knowledgeable guide.
> At 4:30 pm, we made our last stop, at the Museum of Flight and attached
> 'Red Barn' original Boeing factory, now a museum and special events
> location.  One highlight was the privilege of walking through several
> historic aircraft outside:  a British Airways Concorde -- still iconic
> but every bit as cramped as rumoured -- a 787 Dreamliner, Boeing's
> finest engineering achievement to date, and, best of all, one of the
> B-707 jets that served as Air Force One for Eisenhower and JFK.  This is
> the first time since around 1972 I've been inside my dream and nightmare
> aircraft, the Boeing 707, and it was like getting a little bit of my
> boyhood back.  I was able to be just one small plexiglas crowd-control
> panel away from sitting in the captain's chair, in the left side of the
> cockpit.
> Dinner was a fine catered affair inside the warm and inviting Red Barn.
> I also wandered through the two-story building's museum exhibits.  The
> upstairs portion was devoted entirely to the post-WWII era of flying
> boats, propeller passenger planes, and early jets, i.e., my father's
> career.  I was once again gut-punched with nostalgia and longing mixed
> with lingering doom seeing my airline-family world in museum photos --
> lovely and innocent, but, seen from my own perspective, like a Hirohito
> scrapbook from that nice Hawaiian vacation.
> All of these are outstanding places to visit if you can arrange it.
> And, for me, it turns out that you can indeed fly into Mordor, and back,
> and that Mordor's full of pleasant and guileless engineers working hard
> and honestly to build a quality product.
> But, on the whole:  Yay, Airbus Industries.
> [1]  http://en.memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Redshirt
> [2]  I'd have bought a B-707 model if they'd had one but they didn't.
> (Of course, it _would_ have to be a model that comes apart.)
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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