Aviation News

January 5, 2011

Historic Flight Foundation Provides a Unique Glimpse Into Aviation’s Golden Age

Historic Flight Foundation HQ
Historic Flight Foundation's Kilo 7 Hangar at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. (Photo by Liz Matzelle)

Staggerwing; F7 Tigercat, F8 Bearcat, Spitfire; Beaver, P-51

An overview of the hangar. Counterclockwise from bottom: Staggerwing; F7 Tigercat, F8 Bearcat, Spitfire; Beaver, P-51 (Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

Bringing the Planes to the People

Enthusiasts might be excused for thinking that HFF’s proximity practices are somewhat unorthodox. Allowing anyone who can pony up a few bucks for admission to get that close to extremely expensive and rare aircraft is risky. But it’s one of the ways HFF is changing the way the experience works. “If you’re going to [fully] appreciate the restoration . . . [and] maximize the education and the inspiration,” says Sessions, “[then] you need to get close and see what this is all about.” The name of the game at HFF is trust, and 2010 has shown the staff that visitors can be trusted to respect the heritage.

In addition to their on-base shows, HFF puts a special emphasis on bringing the planes out to the people, participating in air shows around the Pacific Northwest and in British Columbia. Artifacts have flown at major shows like Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Air Expo and in smaller shows like the Olympic Airshow in Olympia, Wash. The Foundation will typically send at least one aircraft—Grumpy and Impatient Virgin are the most popular—to wow the crowds and show off the skill of the pilots and the grace of the plane.

(Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren)

The pilots aren’t the only ones who can grab a seat and enjoy the ride. If a visitor has some extra money to spend, he or she can take a ride aboard almost everything they fly that has an extra seat. Prices range considerably: it’s several thousand dollars to sit in the back seat of the Tigercat (though I’m told it’s a heck of a ride), but under $200 will purchase a scenic ride around Puget Sound in the Beaver.