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There are four major aviation attractions dotted around the runways at Everett's Paine Field.

Perhaps the one with the biggest budget is not the Boeing 'Future of Flight' facility, but instead Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection.

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Flying Heritage Collection, Everett

Paul Allen's lovingly cared for plane collection

This custom built hangar is crammed full of beautifully restored planes for the Flying Heritage Collection.



Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has invested his billions of dollars into a very diverse range of businesses and other enterprises and indulgences.

In the Seattle area we not only have his Experience Music Project but also the less well known Flying Heritage Collection, located 30 minutes north of Seattle in Everett.

 This is an excellent but surprisingly small collection of aeroplanes.  Personally, I prefer planes to Jimi Hendrix, and so while welcoming both of Paul Allen's public projects, I can't help wishing he would lavish his Flying Heritage Collection with resource more in line with that given to the EMP in Seattle.

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


Flying Heritage Collection - Everett

A view inside the Flying Heritage Collection's hangar in Everett

Paine Field in Everett is where Boeing has its main airplane assembly operations.  It is also the home to two surprisingly similar 'warbird' type museums - and the Seattle Museum of Flight's Restoration Center too; and it is possible to spend a (very) full day visiting all four places.

If you're a real airplane buff, however, you'd probably end up spending two days at Paine Field.

Another view, showing a Fieseler Storch in front, then a MiG 29 and at the rear, a P-47D Thunderbolt - three extremely different planes.

One of these two museums is Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection.  This has a beautifully presented collection of currently 15 airplanes primarily of the World War 2 era, from German, Japanese, Russian, British and American Air Forces.

Included are the 'normal' sorts of planes you'd expect such as Spitfires, Messerschmitts, Mustangs Hellcats and Zeros as well as less common planes such as a Storch, an Me-163, and two different Polikarpov planes from Russia.

A video presentation in front of a lovely Spitfire, then a Hurricane behind it, and further back, an obscured P-40C Tomahawk and then a totally obscured P-47D Thunderbolt.

The museum's collection is steadily growing, and they indicated that during 2011 they have already confirmed the addition of two more planes to their collection; a B-25 (which means there will be two B-25s now based at Paine Field, both flyable) and a Focke Wulf 190 A-5 (complete with the original BMW 801 engine, which when it was restarted in Dec 2010 marked the first time since 1957 that one of these engines had operated).

Believe it or not, this is the jet engine from a Me-163; with the Me-163, that attained speeds of almost 600 mph from this engine, immediately to the left.

They also have a couple of WW2 tanks (one German, one Russian) and a German Flak-88 anti-aircraft gun, also from WW2.  These come out and drive around and even fire blank charges on Memorial Day.

Not just planes, but a Russian T-34 tank, and a German Jagdpanzer 38(t) tank destroyer as well (plus a Flak 88 AA gun out of the picture to the left).

Currently there is also a beautifully restored MiG-29 at the exhibit, which was bought by another of Paul Allen's corporate entities from the Historic Flight Foundation.  The MiG is close to new, having something like only 510 hours on its airframe prior to being purchased and restored by the Historic Flight Foundation.

This will only be there for a short time, however, before being 'flown away to a non-disclosed location' somewhere else in the US.  Very few Mig-29s are in private ownership, making this a very interesting additional item on display.

When you visit, you are offered a guided tour by a docent at no extra charge.  Guided tours through their collection typically run anywhere from one to three hours, depending mainly upon you and the number of questions you have.

In addition to docents at hand to answer your every question (although on my tour, I found they didn't know all the answers and were baffled by some of the German rocketry, even when asked questions to which the answers were already on the placards alongside each exhibit) there are interactive displays in several places giving you further opportunities to learn about the exhibits (and be entertained).

Almost all the planes have been restored to their original splendor, and not only are they in full working order, they actually get to fly.  The museum has 'Free Fly Days' that occur perhaps ten times a year, from May through September on Saturdays at noon, and typically more or less every other weekend, depending on other activities and commitments, both by the museum and by Paine Field.

On these occasions anywhere from two to four planes are featured.  You can indeed simply go up to Paine Field and watch the planes take off, fly overhead, and land, but if you go into the museum, you will get to meet the pilots then see and hear the planes start up in the hangar and taxi off to the runway.

The organization is one of Paul Allen's various different projects/hobbies, and he is closely involved in its ongoing operation, being an airplane enthusiast himself.  As such it is, ahem, well funded, and this is clearly represented by the quality of their collection and its presentation to the public.  Seattle is very fortunate to have Paul living here and enrichening our lives as he does.

With a fairly full hangar already, and two more planes expected to arrive this year, and unstated but clearly underway plans to continue acquiring further planes and who knows what other exhibits,

No good museum is complete without a gift shop, and this is no exception.  Indeed, it is a good gift shop, with an interesting range of mementos and I ended up getting a set of four coasters in the form of common airplane instrument dials.  If I'd wanted to, I could have even got special label wines featuring the museum and aviation related themes.

Ah yes, the ideal pre-cursor to flying a vintage plane - enjoying a not quite so old but still fine bottle of vintage wine, I guess.

The museum is open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day; the rest of the year it is open six days (closed Mondays).  Admission is $12/adult, discounts for seniors, military and children.

For full details, see 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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