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Edmonds resident named Institute of Flight leader


Last updated 2/23/2018 at Noon

Changes are coming for the Institute of Flight, with a new leader running the show.

Edmonds resident Jeff Van Dyck, who previously was appointed as interim executive director, is now executive director.

The Institute of Flight – which opened in 2005 – runs the day-to-day operations, management and ticketing at the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour in Mukilteo.

It partners with The Boeing Company and Snohomish County. Under the leadership of the county, the Future of Flight facility is partially funded by the Snohomish County Public Facilities District.

The institute’s contract with Snohomish County expires this summer. It must have a new partner by then, which Van Dyck will have a large part in. Arif Ghouse, Paine Field Airport’s director, said he hopes to have an operator announced soon.

Former Executive Director Bonnie Hilory stepped down after more than three years in what was described as a mutually agreed on decision.

Nicholas Patrick, former president of the Institute of Flight’s board of directors, said Van Dyck is the right person to lead the Institute of Flight at this critical time.

“He has a clear understanding of our position in the community and the region, in addition to providing shared leadership to the Boeing Tour operations and direction to our well-respected education programs,” Patrick said. “He further has the full support of the IoF board of directors.”

It is the most popular attraction in Snohomish County, attracting 324,000 tourists on the Boeing Tour alone, with another 175,000 visitors per year to the Aerospace Gallery. It adds nearly $6.5 million in economic activity to the area. It has a staff of 33, plus dozens of volunteers and contractors with a budget of about $3.8 million.

30 years in Edmonds

Van Dyck attended Southern Oregon University and the Art Center College in Pasadena, California, and has lived in Edmonds for more than 30 years with his wife Eileen.

He has also had a longtime relationship with the Future of Flight Foundation, previously serving on the board of directors for the Institute of Flight as well as serving as its Exhibits Committee chair, and hopes to continue to have strong relationships with Snohomish County and local businesses such as Boeing.

“In Jeff’s short time as interim executive director, he brought a renewed focus and energy to the organization, streamlining operations and emphasizing our desire to continue serving our partners, Snohomish County and Boeing,” Institute of Flight Board of Directors President Cameron Percy said.

“His familiarity with, and to, all of our stakeholders made his onboarding seamless, and we applaud the spirit of openness and collaboration he brings to all aspects of running the Future of Flight Aviation Center.”

When Hilory was stepping down from her role, staff suggested Van Dyck for the job. “He’s been supporting us for more than 10 years now,” said Pamela Drake, administrative and project specialist for the Institute of Flight. “Having him in this position has been great already.”

Van Dyck said he appreciates the staff at the Future of Flight for making his job easier, and hopes to keep things running smoothly.

“I’m just trying to enable the great staff to do the best job they can. I like to manage from a plane, not from the top of a pyramid. Already knowing everyone has made this really easy for me. It’s a great group of people, and it’s been interesting to hear their ideas and education plans.”

Van Dyck had a 20-year career at Boeing as a creative director responsible for the so-called immersive brand-experience.

During his time with Boeing, Van Dyck led the design for the Dreamliner Gallery that allowed airline representatives to pick out different components for their new planes in a showroom setting.

“When we did that, I worked closely with a cultural anthropologist, and we studied cultures around the world to figure out what different cultures like and prefer with regards to flying.”

The Edmonds resident hopes to get more local businesses to do exhibits, to enhance and refresh the Future of Flight Gallery.

“We’re inviting suppliers from aerospace companies in the area to do exhibits about their contributions. We don’t want to be seen as a museum. I want us to be viewed as an interpretive center that talks about where flight is going.”

Looking ahead, Van Dyck is excited for the Future of Flight’s Family STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) Night March 14.

It’s a free education event for kids, adults and vendors. Those attending will get hands-on experiences like 3D printers and a “Drone Zone.”

When asked why they use “STEAM” over the more common “STEM,” Van Dyck stressed the importance of arts.

“What’s kept America unique is our strong arts programs,” Van Dyck said. “Using right-brain thinking helps us with our critical thinking. And this critical thinking thrives on creativity. I’d love to see America put more emphasis on the arts.”

The hardest question Van Dyck had to answer? What’s his favorite current exhibit at the Future of Flight?

“The Destiny Module exhibit is probably my favorite right now,” Van Dyck said. “We have a really close relationship with the Museum of Flight, and they lent the module mock-up to us at no cost.

“We’ve brought in a couple of astronauts, including Nicholas Patrick, who got to tell people what it’s like to live and work in the Destiny Module at the International Space Station.”

The Future of Flight is at 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo. The aviation center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day and conducts the Boeing Tour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily as well. Tickets are $10-$25.

Edmonds Beacon Editor Brian Soergel contributed to this story.


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