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The Flying Heritage Collection (FHC) located at Paine Field Airport in Everett, Washington is a fantastic aviation museum. Founded by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft and current owner of the Seattle Seahawks), the museum hosts a fantastic collection of primarily World War II era warbirds from a variety of countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany and Russia. The museum also has a number of other interesting artifacts from World War II, including tanks and a V-1 and a V-2 rocket.
All of the planes and other vehicles at the museum are in fantastic shape, and unlike many air museums, almost all of the aircraft on display are still in flightworthy condition, and are flown regularly. (Well OK, the V-1 and V-2 rockets won’t be going up any time soon.) Even the tanks were taken out and driven around and fired recently.
At least once a month during the summer, FHC holds “Fly Days,” where they fly several of the vintage aircraft that are on display at the museum. At these Fly Days, which are free by the way (although you do have to pay an admission fee to tour the museum itself), spectators are able to go right out to the edge of the runway and observe the planes as they make very fast and very loud passes overhead and in front of the crowd. The sound of the large and powerful piston engines in these aircraft is like nothing you will hear in anything else. (With the exception of old unlimited hydroplanes for those of you who remember hydroplanes, a favorite up here in the Northwest, before they changed to turbine engines. Originally, the unlimited hydroplanes featured engines from World War II aircraft.)
This past Saturday was such a Fly Day, where the featured attractions were a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt and a North American P-51D Mustang. It was quite a thrill to see and hear these historical aircraft screaming overhead in tight formation. During an hour long performance the aircraft took off in front of the crowd and then made a number of different passes, both solo and in formation, in-front of and over the viewing area.
Granted these pictures that I shot at the Fly Day were shot with up to a 400mm telephoto lens, but in many cases I had to back the lens way off to around 100 mm because the planes were so close! You really get an incredible opportunity to get up close to some incredible and historical aircraft during the FHC Fly Days.
Sincere thanks to Paul Allen for restoring these aircraft to flightworthy condition and for making them available at the Flying Heritage Collection for viewing, both static and in the air, to aviation enthusiasts like myself. If you are interested in aviation and aircraft, and are ever in the Seattle area, you owe it to yourself to check out the Flying Heritage Collection.