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With all the different aviation museums and other related activities in the region, there are regular special events that can add greatly to your experience.

Be sure to check to see if there is anything special scheduled for your time in the Seattle area.

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Seattle - Special Aviation Events

There's Plenty for the Plane Buff in the Seattle Area

Blue Angels flying over Seattle

The Blue Angels are an annual fixture during the Seafair celebration each summer in Seattle.

Here they are flying low and fast over Lake Washington.



Airshows, special open days, flying days, lectures, presentations, short term exhibits, and much more and an ongoing diversity of changing things to enrichen your aviation touring around the Seattle area.

Some activities follow a regular annual scheduled calendar, others are more ad hoc and require you to do a bit of research before traveling to Seattle.

All are hopefully of added interest.

The Many Different Aviation Themed Attractions Around Seattle

Seattle is one of the birthplaces of the US aviation/aerospace industry, along with obvious other places such as Kitty Hawk and some not quite so obvious places such as Wichita.

Whether for this reason or purely by accidental chance, the greater Puget Sound region has a treasure trove of aviation themed attractions and activities.  This eleven part series details many of them.

0.  Aviation Themed Attractions in the Seattle Area - intro/overview

1.  Museum of Flight, Seattle

2.  Boeing Factory Tour & Future of Flight, Everett

3.  Flying Heritage Collection, Everett

4.  Historic Flight Foundation, Everett

5.  Museum of Flight Restoration Center, Everett

6.  Heritage Flight Museum, Bellingham

7.  Fly in a glider/sailplane/balloon

8.  Special Events

9.  Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR

10.  Other Regional Aviation Museums

Regular Annual Aviation Events in the Seattle Area

There are some annual aviation related events that can be relied on to occur most years.

These include two air shows - one in Lower British Columbia, the Abbotsford Air Show, and the other in Olympia, 90 minutes south of Seattle, the Olympic Air Show.

More than a decade ago Seattle used to have its own annual air show, but it was discontinued due to costing the organizers too much money to continue staging.  So now Seattle residents have to travel north or south to attend air shows.

Abbotsford Air Show

The Abbotsford Air Show takes place on the second full weekend in August of each year and extends over three days.  This is a large and well attended show, and 2012 will be its 50th anniversary.

You can find out more about this air show on their website.

Olympic Air Show

This air show is operated in conjunction with the Olympic Flight Museum, and is very much smaller than the Abbotsford Show.  As the name sort of implies, it is held in Olympia (Washington's state capital).

In 2011 their show is scheduled for June 18 & 19, which will be their (hopefully lucky) 13th show.

More details on their website.

Seafair and the Blue Angels

Seattle has a several week festival each summer that is known as Seafair.

Part of the Seafair events each year include two days of performances by the Navy Blue Angels, with their planes centering their flying over Lake Washington.  This provides a great natural viewing arena for the public, and the pilots like it as an unobstructed area where they can safely go fast and low.

On the other hand, maybe I'm misremembering, but it seems to me that over the years the Blue Angels performances have become less daring and spectacular and rather more sedate - although, of course, 'sedate' is a very relative term.

The Blue Angels are scheduled for 6 & 7 August in 2011.

More details on the Seafair website.

Paine Field General Aviation Day

Paine Field is the airport in Everett where Boeing and three of the aviation museums are all based.

Each year they have a 'General Aviation' Day which includes some extra flying activities, planes on display, food opportunities, discount admissions to some of the museums, and general relaxed fun.

In 2011 this is scheduled for May 21.  More details on their website.

Not so Scheduled but Occasional Events

There are other events that occur from time to time.

The most obvious of these would be the monthly (or thereabouts) flying days staged by some of the aviation museums.

You should visit the websites of the various different museums (and or telephone them - not everything gets to their websites) and see what their schedule for events may be while you are visiting.

Although the Seattle Museum of Flight doesn't have flying days, it does have special events on a moderately regular basis, and also has temporary exhibits that come and go, so it is also worthwhile checking with them to see what they might have scheduled during your visit.

Another organization that doesn't have its own museum is the Cascade Warbirds - a group of people who own former military planes and who like to go fly together on occasion.  Check their website to see if they have anything planned, and also for oblique mentions of other events in the area.

One Off Events

It is helpful to check some of the potential organizers or promoters/publicizers of special events to see what else might be happening.

Paine Field's website home page has a section on announcements and events which sometimes mentions upcoming activities of interest.

The Pacific Northwest Flying website and forum has a section all about upcoming aviation themed events.

There are sometimes open days and other events at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.  In 2011 it is participating in the Centenary of Naval Aviation celebrations (29 - 30 July) - details here.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly adjacent Army and Air Force bases) sometimes has an air show - apparently these days once every two years.  Sometimes the Air Force Thunderbirds perform at this show, but last year (2010) they did not participate.

There may be another show in 2012 - check for details of this and any other open day/special events (such as Armed Forces Day) at their website.

Other possible activities of note include the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.  This attraction has an IMAX theater that sometimes shows aviation themed movies (currently - April 2011 - it is showing Legends of Flight 3D).

Check for details on their website.

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Originally published 25 March 2011, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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