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2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

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An Inside Look at a Restored Douglas DC-3 at Historic Flight

The HFF DC3 - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The HFF DC3 – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett, WA is home to a variety of both modern and vintage aircraft.  Though brand spanking new Boeing planes are built there and delivered to around the world, the vintage aircraft hopefully come to stay around for a while.

At the Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) there are some glorious classic aircraft that have been painstakingly restored and are much loved by not only their owner, but also the volunteers who look after them. One such recent arrival joining the collection is a beautifully restored Douglas DC-3, in Pan American Airways [PanAm] livery, that has a checkered past.  I was recently invited to check out the aircraft and was able to learn a bit more about its history.

Continue reading An Inside Look at a Restored Douglas DC-3 at Historic Flight

Things to Do While Visiting Seattle: It is Not Just About Aviation

Downtown Seattle Skyline  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Downtown Seattle Skyline Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

As a newly transplanted Australian to the Pacific Northwest, I sometimes feel that I am a tourist in my own city.  David has lived here quite a while, so to him, this is his backyard.  But to me, this is all new, though I have visited a few times; I am still constantly exploring this city.  With Aviation Geek Fest approaching, I am sure there are other people who are visiting and wondering what other non AvGeek things can be seen in Seattle.

Seattle has so many different things to see & do that the possibility is endless, but if you are in town for just a few days, well these sights should be on your “must do” list. If you live in the area or have visited and have other ideas, be sure to share them in the comments.

  1. Pike Place Market– The quintessential experience in Seattle.  The longest operating Farmers Market in the USA, home to fresh fruit & veggies, fresh seafood and anything your heart could desire.  The Market contains the “Pike Place Seafood Market” home of the flying fish and make sure to take a walk downstairs to the Market Theater Gum Wall, shove on a piece of gum — just don’t touch. If you are looking for souvenirs to bring home, you will have no problem finding something.

    Pikes Place Market in Downtown Seattle is one of the most iconic places to visit  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    Pikes Place Market in Downtown Seattle is one of the most iconic places to visit Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  2. Coffee, need more Coffee – Seattle is home to a number of coffee companies but I am sure you have all heard of this small company with just a number of shops around the country.  They call themselves Starbucks.  Their first ever store (well not really the first but that is a whole other story) is located down in the Pikes Place Market area.  Not only can you line up to buy a cup of their coffee (and sometimes that line is looooong) they also sell merchandise that is not available anywhere else.
  3. Seattle Center– This is easy to find since it is the home to that weird looking pointy thing, the Seattle Space Needle.  Built for the world’s fair in 1962, the Space Needle and the surrounding area is a big draw card for tourists.  The Space Needle will set you back around $20 to get up to the observation deck, but remember what Seattle’s weather is known for — not seeing very far.  One way to cut back on the fee is to have a meal in the restaurant (Sky City Restaurant) at the top (or check out tip #5).  Also in the area are the Pacific Science Center and the Experience Music Project & Sci Fi Museum (EMP). The EMP building alone is worth a visit just to see this spectacle from the outside (see photo below).

    Experience Music Project/Sci Fi Museum is an eclectic looking building  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    Experience Music Project/Sci Fi Museum is an eclectic looking building Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  4. Ride the Seattle Monorail- The nation’s first commercial monorail, at $2 a ride, is a pretty good way of going from Seattle Center to the downtown area.  Still running the very retro styled monorail cars, this is a good flash back.  The ride takes barely 2 minutes and is a great way to skirt above the streets.

    The Nations oldest Commercial Monorail, marked 50 years of service in 2012!  Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    The Nations oldest Commercial Monorail, marked 50 years of service in 2012! Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  5. Columbia Center Tower – Located on the Corner of Columbia Street & 5th Ave, the Columbia Center is the Pacific Northwest’s tallest building.  It towers over the Space Needle and dominates the skyline on a clear day.  There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor that has views over the city that will astound you.  They don’t go 360 degrees like the space needle, but the entry is only $9 per person!  What is even better, if you are there mid-week (Monday to Friday), there is a Starbucks on the 40thfloor with views almost as good for free.

    View of Seattle from the Columbia Center Tower Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

    View of Seattle from the Columbia Center Tower Photo by Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

  6. Take a flight seeing tour around SeattleKenmore Air and Rainier Flight offer aircraft tours of the city and with Seattle HeliTours you can go in a helicopter.   What better way to see Seattle than from the sky? As an AvGeek it should come as no surprise that these might be some of the best touristic options in Seattle.  But to make it even better, why not do it on-board a Seaplane taking off from South Lake Union, right next to downtown, with Kenmore.
  7. Ride a Ferry – If you like planes, you might also like boats. For a few bucks, you can walk on to a ferry in downtown Seattle and enjoy the ride. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, head north to Anacortes, WA to catch the ferry up to the San Juan Islands.

No matter what you want to see, or what you enjoy doing, you are sure to be able to find it in Seattle. There are so many more things to do, please share some of your favorites in the comments.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Guest Review: Flying Heritage Collection — Paine Field — Everett, WA

Friends of mine, Maresa, recently started a new blog that looks at all the great opportunities around the greater Seattle area called AroundPugetSound.net. She recently visited the Flying Heritage Collection and did a great review that I wanted to share. She is not an aviation geek, so it is great to see a review from the perspective of those who just have an interest in the area, history and how things work. Here is Maresa’s review in her own words…

My grandfather came into town from Minnesota last week to visit; he’s been a pilot for over 50 years. My husband and I always like taking Grandpa on flying-related outings whenever he’s in town. Last year we explored the Future of Flight together and he’s visited the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in the past. This year we needed something different. Lucky for us we recently heard about Paul Allen’s airplanes at Paine Field in Everett: The Flying Heritage Collection. When we arrived at the Flying Heritage Collection, we were escorted back through history and it has now become one of our favorite museums.

A look at the Paul Allen's historic WWII collection of war-time airplanes

A look at the Paul Allen's historic WWII collection of war-time airplanes

The Flying Heritage Collection 

Next to all of the giant Boeing hangers, Paul Allen’s hangar doesn’t appear very big.  But, once inside the museum hangar, you’ll find they have fit 16 aircraft–mostly from the World War II era– two WWII army tanks, and two missiles.  They also have a replica of SpaceShipOne, the first private-venture rocket ship. State of the art restoration techniques have been used to refurbish these vintage airplanes and other artifacts. Many of the planes have stories. For example, the Messerschmitt BF 109 E-3 (Emil), was found in several pieces buried in sand along the English Channel by a man walking the beach in the late 1980s. With time and the right replacement parts, plus liberal funding, it has been returned to its original form. The planes look as sharp as they did when they were manufactured over 70 years ago.

The WWII tanks at the museum--yes they can still fire and they have armor that's a good 3 inches thick

The WWII tanks at the museum--yes they can still fire and they have armor that's a good 3 inches thick

Free Fly Days
Our tour was lead by a docent, Jack.  Jack was extremely well-prepared and superbly informed about each exhibit in the museum. One of the first things Jack told us was that all of the planes were in flying condition and the all tanks could still be driven and fire ammunition, making this more of a functional collection than simply a museum. As we walked around in the museum, mechanics were working on several of the planes, ensuring that they would be in good operating condition for the yearly Free Fly Days that happen every summer. The “Free Fly Days” don’t afford the public rides in the plane, but allow you to come and be part of history by witnessing the operation and flight of these historic planes as experienced pilots take off and land the planes just outside the hangar.

Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk: it really was painted with a shark face back during WWII

Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk: it really was painted with a shark face back during WWII

Plane Stories
    Thanks to our docent we learned a great deal about the story behind each plane.  Jack offered not only information about the make and model of the plane, but the history of the individual aircraft that stood before us. Every plane narrative was completely unique. From how the plane was used in the war, to what each country wanted to accomplish with their aircraft, to when and how the plane was found and eventually bought by Paul Allen to be restored.  The following is one that captivated us and we wanted to share with you.
The Night Witches
The “Night Witches” were female Russian pilots who flew PO-2 biplanes during WWII. These bomber pilots were part of a unit that was entirely operated by women. As you know, for women to fly in direct combat was extremely rare at this time in history. The Soviet Union was the first country to allow women in combat after Stalin approved a plan to use this regiment of young women against the invading Germans.  Many of these female pilots were teenagers at the time. The “Night Witches” would fly low over the German soldiers, with the darkness of night on their side, and conduct daring raids on the Germans. They would fly the PO-2 close to the ground, cut off its engine, so as not to attract attention, and release their bomb load as they glided.

While the Night Witches didn’t end up causing too much damage, their incessant bombing missions kept the Germans up all night, and reportedly stressed and demoralized the German troops. The German troops were also put out by the fact that these were women conducting the raids, and thus they gave them the name, “The Night Witches.” These Russian pilots earned high honors in Russia as being “Heros of the Soviet Union” during the war.

The PO-2 flown by "The Night Witches" during WWII in Soviet Russia

The PO-2 flown by "The Night Witches" during WWII in Soviet Russia

Sworn To Secrecy
    Jack told us that even though the Night Witches were seen as heros, they had been sworn to secrecy after the war and were forced to resume their lives as housewives when the war concluded, never to unveil the fact that they were pilots, let alone that they had flown in the war. It wasn’t until the late 1980′s or 1990′s that these female Russian soldiers were able to tell their story. You’ll learn even more about the “Night Witches” at the museum when you visit.
Curtis JN-4D Jenny air-craft manufactured in 1918--Amelia Earhart flew a plane like this one

Curtis JN-4D Jenny air-craft manufactured in 1918--Amelia Earhart flew a plane like this one

Back To The Collection
We highly recommend asking for a tour guide when you arrive.  Your docent will make the history of the airplanes come to life in a way that they may not otherwise. My grandfather, who has studied and known WWII aircraft for many years, said that he learned a great deal from our docent. We are looking forward to returning to the Flying Heritage Collection for their Free Fly Days to hear the planes’ motors roar and watch history soar.

  Aircraft in the Collection 

Artifacts
Newly added pieces include a collection of popular WWII sidearms carried by many pilots in their aircraft to offer some defense in the case of a crash-landing behind enemy lines.  These include the venerable Colt M1911A1, the German 9mm Luger P08 pistol carried by many of the German officers and the 9mm Walther P38 pistol.  Some of these models are still actively used today in militaries around the world.
Polikarpov I-16 Type 24 "Rata"--this was a very sturdy plane that could handle being shot at much longer than many other planes

Polikarpov I-16 Type 24 "Rata"--this was a very sturdy plane that could handle being shot at much longer than many other planes

Things To Know

  • Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • This is a great outing to take your kids on, especially if they’re studying WWII history in school
  • Free parking on-site
  • Admission fees: Adults $12, Seniors/Military $10, Youth (6-15 years) $8, Children (5 and under) Free
  • Free Fly Days: There’s usually one in June and in July, and a couple in August and in September—they take out different planes on different days

Directions
From I-5 take the exit to Highway 525 toward the Mukilteo Ferry
Highway 525 will become the Mukilteo Speedway
Turn right onto Beverly Park Road
Follow the “Flying Heritage Collection” Signs to the parking lot
End at: Paine Field 3407 109th Street SW Everett, WA 98204

You can follow Maresa on her adventures at AroundPugetSound.net, via Facebook or Twitter.

Short Take: Aviation in Seattle ROCKS!

Boeing 787 Flying over Seattle, WA

Benet Wilson, who writes for Aviation Week and has her own blog Aviation Queen, is out of town and asked me to write up a guest blog. I decided to write on something important to me: Aviation in Seattle.

I give a little synopsis of all the great things that aviation loves can do, when visiting (or living in Seattle). Click here to check it out.

Aviation in Seattle: Check out Arlington Fly-In This Weekend

If you are in the Seattle area this weekend, be sure to check out the Arlington Fly In.

If you are in the Seattle area this weekend, be sure to check out the Arlington Fly In.

Attention Seattle peeps: this weekend, the Arlington Fly-In is going taking place (actually started on the 6th and ending on the 10th) — so be sure to go check it out. From personal aircraft to air shows to even vintage tanks, it is quite the spectacle. If you purchase your tickets online, you can save a few bucks and kids under 15 are free.

You can check out photos and more information on their Facebook page or live webcams on the Washington State Department of Transportation website. The Gail Fiege, with the Everett Herald, also wrote up an interesting story about how one can not just explore aircraft, but also military history.