Heritage Flight Museum,
There's Plenty for the Plane Buff in the
The Heritage Flight
Museum is on the left as you drive along the access road to
The Heritage Flight Museum in
Bellingham is a smaller museum; like many of the other profiled
museums it has grown from the vision and passion of a single man
- in this case former Apollo astronaut and Air Force Major
General, Bill Anders.
It has an eclectic range of
planes, including a cold war F-89J Scorpion which amazingly was a
plane flown by Anders himself, many decades before.
Many of the planes are in
operational flying status, and on the third Saturday of each month
some of the planes are flown.
A tour of this site does not take
very long to complete, but for the true aviation history
enthusiast, it is definitely worth visiting.
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 -
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
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR
10. Other Regional
Heritage Flight Museum, Bellingham
Just over an hour further north up I-5 (ie after Everett) is the
lovely medium sized town of Bellingham (pop 80,000). Best
known as the lower/mainland terminal for the Alaska Marine
Highway (ie ferry) system, and as the home of Western Washington
University, this charming town boasts another small warbird
collection at its airport on the north side of the city.
view inside the main hangar at
Bellingham's Heritage Flight Museum.
The airport is impressively named the Bellingham International
Airport, but the 'international' refers to puddle jumping
flights that travel the 20 miles north (or west) to Canada and
the airport is tiny.
The Heritage Flight Museum is on the left as you drive in to the
airport. Entering takes you first into an exhibit room
that has a curious pot pourri of exhibits spanning a broad
miscellany of things to do with flying and rocketry.
Some of the items on display are not real - for example, there
is what appears to be a wing section from the Enola Gay, but it
is a replica.
One can then walk out into the first of two hangars to see the
hangared planes, and you can then access the second hangar from
the first hangar, with additional planes in it.
Depending on when you are there and what is scheduled for the
day, some of the planes may be outside the public area of the
museum, and instead in the restricted 'live' part of the
airport on the 'hot flight line', because they are expected to be flying in the near
future (or recently have been flying). This means you
don't get up close and personal with those planes.
Planes on the 'Flight Line' at
Bellingham. In the foreground is
an A-1, in the middle distance is a T-6D
and in the background is a P-51.
The Heritage Flight Museum has thirteen planes, all American,
and primarily of the post WW-2 era, and an H-13 Sioux helicopter, made
famous in M*A*S*H.
Outside and around the corner from the second hangar is an F-89J
jet fighter of the cold war era that has been partially restored, something
which promises to be an ongoing major project. Amazingly, this is a
plane which the museum's founder had formerly flown, himself.
The museum does not own this plane, but has it on loan from the
GSA (the plane's owner) and as a result will not be allowed to
restore it to full flying condition.
In addition, there is a real Link trainer (the fore-runner of
today's much more sophisticated airplane simulators) an M3A1
scout car and even a Jeep.
restored Link trainer at the Bellingham
Heritage Flight Museum.
Among other interesting things, they have a networked pair of
computers running Flight Simulator, with special scenery for the
Bellingham area both present day and as it was as a US Army Air
Corps base in WW2. The software also features the planes that are in
the museum's collection, and visitors can use the Flight
Simulator software to 'fly' the museum's planes in the
Bellingham area, either singly or together with other visitors
at the same time.
The two computers have big widescreen monitors, throttle
quadrants (with three levers for throttle, pitch and mixture),
joystick (of course) and rudder pedals too, helping to make the
cockpit experience more realistic.
They also participate in an internet connected Flight Simulator
game club. Details
In addition to seeing the planes parked, they have Fly Days on
the third Saturday of every month, when some of their fleet take
to the air (and my sense is they do this some weekends, too).
This is another airplane collection that grew out of the vision
of a single man, although in this case it is more of a shared
family vision. It was founded in 1996 by Bill Anders, or
to be more formal, Major General William A Anders, who is best
known as being one of the Apollo 8 astronauts, the mission that
was the first flight to the moon in 1968 (but which of course
did not land on the moon). He is joined in the museum's
leadership by his sons Greg and Alan.
The museum is currently in temporary quarters, while they search
for a suitable permanent home. It is open Thursday - Saturday, and admission is a
suggested/requested $5 donation per person. There's a
rather subtle jar on the side of the reception counter in which
one should place one's donation, and the staff don't make any
reference to its existence at all.
This was an interesting and unassuming collection of planes and
memorabilia. My sense is that most of the attendees are
'friends and family'.
Planes and Other Exhibits
The following planes and other exhibits can be seen at the
For full details,
see their website.
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25 March 2011, last update
21 Jul 2020
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