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April 25, 2013

Every AvGeek’s Dream: My Adventures in Everett: Part 2 Historic Flight Foundation

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As I mentioned in my previous post about my adventures at Paine Field, I ended my first day with a trip to the Historic Flight Foundation.  They are located off of Kilo 7 on the field, or in the southwest corner of the airport off the Mukilteo Speedway if you are driving there.  If you don’t have the time to sit around and wait for modern planes to take-off and land then I would highly recommend you spend your time here.

According to their website:

“Historic Flight Foundation was established in 2003 as “John T. Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation” with the intention to collect, restore, and share significant aircraft from the period between the solo Atlantic crossing of Charles Lindbergh and the first test flight of the Boeing 707. Throughout the intervening years, Historic Flight has acquired at least two aircraft annually and engaged the best restoration resources available to return the collection to original splendor.”

I must say that they are doing an amazing job of fulfilling their mission.  I was only able to take a few pictures (see below) before my phone died, but they are hands down the most impeccably maintained aircraft I have ever seen.  I had the opportunity to see Marine One up close once, and it was not as clean and shiny as these old warbirds, and they all still fly regularly which is an achievement in and of itself.

Their most popular aircraft is probably the B-25, named Grumpy.  It has all of the character that I love about these old planes.  It has a story that tells itself simply by being in its presence.  You can also climb inside and take a look around which gives the whole thing even more perspective.

I had the opportunity to climb into the navigator/bombardier’s seat, and as a current navigator it gave me a much greater appreciation of how they did the job back then.  The things that I take for granted were not even considered back then.  Yet they still had to accomplish their mission just like I do now.

What would a warbird collection be without a good old P-51 Mustang?  Their Mustang, Impatient Virgin? is simply stunning(sorry the pic is a little blurry).  One thing that also makes it unique is that the machine guns are still loaded.  Just one of the many awesome features at Historic Flight that make it special.

They also just recently acquired an old DC-3 that was actually the corporate aircraft for Johnson and Johnson.  Having climbed into a lot of private jets while working at an FBO I must say that the amenities have improved dramatically.  That being said, they once again did a stellar job restoring it, and even have a page from the original logbook when the plane flew most of the way around the world.

The plane that I was most impressed with was the Waco UPF-7.  It is the green fuselage with off-white wings in the pictures below.  Like all of the others it is stunning, but when you see the pictures they have on display of back when the entire thing was in boxes it is incredible how pristine it looks now, and once again, it still flies regularly.

They also had to re-manufacture the wings, so while they were at it they made an extra and turned into a conference room table.  The cool thing is that they could take the glass top off, wrap the frame and it would work just fine as an actual wing.

The thing that probably struck me most about my visit to Historic Flight was the people who worked there.  They are all passionate about their work.  They are well versed on the aircraft they have, and know way more than just the basic details of the model.  Each of the aircraft has a unique story, as many of these older aircraft do, and the staff all know the stories.

With all of the 787s parked all over the field there are actually three parked right outside of Historic Flight which you can see in my picture of the DC-3.  It was really interesting seeing these relatively ancient aircraft sitting next to arguably the most modern aircraft out there, yet it was grounded while these old birds still fly just fine.

Regardless of the technology involved, aircraft will never cease to amaze me.  Whether it is the rumble of an old P-51 or B-25, or the relative whisper of the 787, they all leave me in awe.  Watching them cruise down then runway and then lift off as if being on the ground was just the wrong place for them to be is something that I will never stop enjoying.

Coming up next: The Boeing Factory Tour.

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