The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner test plane, which first flew December 15, 2009, is now the main attraction at an aviation theme park called Flight of Dreams that opened this week in Japan at Chubu Centrair International, an airport built on an artificial island south of Nagoya.
I had a chance to visit the attraction shortly before it opened and learn about this unique project.
The four-story complex is built between the airport’s two terminals and welcomes visitors to a Flight Center with high-tech and hands-on aviation experiences, including a look inside the 787’s cockpit and a virtual tour of Boeing’s Everett, WA factory.
Many of Boeing’s Japanese aerospace partners are based in the Nagoya area and produce an estimated 35% of all the parts that go into the 787 aircraft.
That includes the main wing and fuselage sections, which are so big that they must travel from Centrair to Boeing’s U.S. assembly plants in Everett, WA and North Charleston, S.C. in Boeing’s 747-400 Large Cargo Freight Dreamlifters.
Boeing donated the first 787 built to Nagoya’s Centrair International Airport in 2015 to honor the role the airport and the people of the region played – and continue to play – in the Dreamliner’s development and production. And instead of just parking the aircraft on the airport grounds, Centrair decided to build a destination aviation theme-park around the plane.
The second and third floors of the facility, dubbed Seattle Terrace, overlook the 787 and include branches of some of some of Seattle’s iconic shops and restaurants, including Starbucks (of course), Pike Brewing, Fran’s Chocolates, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Pike Brewing, and several others.
As with all theme parks, visitors exit through the souvenir shop, which is itself quite the attraction.
The first Boeing Store outside the United States is here and is stocked with around 500 aviation-related items, including furniture and artwork made from re-purposed airplane parts and many Boeing-branded items that will only be sold in this store.
Learn more about the attraction – and see a slide show of 29 photos in my story about the Flight of Dreams attraction on USA TODAY.