Plans, planes, and parking

Raisbeck Aviation High School’s parking situation may change as the Museum of Flight grows. The expansion plan of the museum calls for using the empty space adjacent to the high school for a new building.


“The long-term vision for the museum,” said Clark Miller, the museum’s Director of Facilities, “is to build a Commercial Aviation Gallery that will house all of the aircraft currently parked outside under one roof that would extend from the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery to the high school.”


The aircraft currently on display in the airpark have been waiting for permanent housing for years. Exposure to the Pacific Northwest elements have taken a toll on the historic planes, including the first Boeing 747, the first Boeing 737, and the first jet Air Force One, which underwent cleaning and detailing last August.


The museum’s expansion to the west side of East Marginal Way has been an ongoing process. RAHS’s new facility and the opening of the Charles Simonyi gallery are the most recent pieces to be completed.


“We would like to see the first phase of this project get underway in mid-2015,” said Miller. “A study for additional parking is also underway.”


In recent months, rumors of Boeing allowing the Museum of Flight to display one of the 787 test planes have raised questions on what will happen to the lot in the not-so-distant future. However, there isn’t much to worry about.


“The museum believes we will be receiving a 787 in mid-2014,” said Miller, “and it will have minimal effect on the lot.”


The lot has been used for everything from storing construction equipment to being the location of the RAHS groundbreaking ceremony. For now, it is continuing its role of relieving the museum’s main parking lot during large events, such as Seafair.


“The lot has always been used for overflow parking,” said Miller. “The Museum recently cleaned it up to look more presentable from the school and from the street.”


Although the lot is the Museum of Flight’s property, it is available to RAHS if needed, supplementing the 150-stall paved parking lot. It has already seen use during the school’s grand opening last October.


“The parking agreement allows RAHS to use the lot for special events, i.e., mentor breakfasts, information nights, open house, ” said Assistant Principal Bruce Kelly. “During [the museum’s] busy spring season, we’ll notice the lot begin to fill with school busses bringing students for field trips as well as private vehicles for the MoF’s special events.”


Overflow parking has not been a daily necessity. RAHS’s paved parking lot has proven to properly support both faculty and student drivers.


“I like our parking situation way more than last year,” said senior Max Kenyon, who drives to school every day. “I know that there was a giant scare in the beginning of the year when there was still construction here, and we all had to try and get here super early so we could get parking. Now that we have more parking, I think everything is fine.”


The gate to the overflow parking is owned by the Museum of Flight, but RAHS custodial staff open it as a courtesy service. However, parking closer to the school doesn’t necessarily mean quicker access.


“The doors on the south side of the building remain locked except for special events,” said Kelly. “For security reasons, all foot traffic is expected to come in through the main doors on the north side of the building… The current foot traffic pattern is the best way to manage and monitor visitors and guests and alert us to any potential threats to school safety.”


While locking the doors is in the best interest of safety, it still creates an inconvenience for students who have to walk around to the other side of the school.

“It’s that extra 1/16th of a mile that kills you every time,” said Kenyon. “I don’t think anything could affect me worse, really… It’s those moments when you’re late back from lunch and have three minutes to be in class, and you just pull up to the back and run over to the doors and there’s no one there.”

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