"They were called test pilots. And no one knew their names," - The Right Stuff So begins the story of…
Another Great Year at Paine Field Aviation Day
Young people in aviation is a problem that is more prevalent than ever. The topic of young adults in aviation is something I dove into in an article I wrote previously. Fortunately, events like Aviation Day at Paine Field are slowly bringing a solution to an ever-expanding problem. One of the few spring-time aviation activities in Washington, Aviation Day kicks off the start of the Washington Air Show Season, with displays from many warbirds, including the iconic P-51 Mustang, the T-6 Texan, and F7F Tigercat. Open to all ages, kids under 17 get in free, and it’s $10 for everyone else. GA day admission also gets you into both the museums on the field that host the event, the Flying Heritage Collection, created by Paul Allen, and the Historic Flight Foundation, created by John Sessions. Along with free admission, and greater access to the airport, kids 17 and under get a free 20-minute flight through the EAA Young Eagles Program.
I got into aviation in a somewhat unorthodox way (falling for the loud, old time machines from the 40’s and 30’s, before gaining an interest in the sleek, modern-day airliners) so it’s close to impossible for me to pass up a chance to see these historic beauties in action. The lineup for the fly-bys were studded with World War Two legends, like the F6F ‘hellcat’, the IL-2 Sturmovik, the P-47 Thunderbolt, and of course, the immaculate P-51 Mustang. But these weren’t the only planes tearing up the skies of Paine, the Beech Boys (get it?), a local group of Beechcraft bonanzas made a couple formation passes, a T-28 Trojan did a couple of passes, a 1927 Travel air 2000 and a 1943 Waco UPF-7 did some formation passes, and a replica Gee Bee Q.E.D. II made some passes (and set some car alarms off).
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As for access, a portion of a taxiway is shut down on the east side of the field, which allows you to get about 200 feet closer to the runway than normal, and on the west side, the HFF opens their property up so spotters are able to choose from the fence line, which is a football field’s length away from the runway, or a small hill that gets you above most of the warbirds as they make their low passes, offering a spectacular view and even better photos. Warbirds weren’t the only aircraft making appearances on the runway either, a Boeing 747-LCF landed just before showtime, and a future Cathay Pacific 777-300ER fresh from the paint hangars at PDX arrived right smack dab in the middle of the flying demonstrations. The expanded access that was allowed gave me a spectacular chance to be closer to some of the largest planes in the world than I had ever been before.
As well as the flying demonstrations, there were also a number of amazing aircraft on display, from a Cessna Citation CJ2, to a Blackhawk and Chinook helicopter, as well as a number of Cessna and Piper aircraft that people could get into and check out. All in all, it was a very solid lineup and provided hours of aviation entertainment, and is definitely something I’d recommend. If your local general aviation airport doesn’t have any type of fly-in or air show, I urge you to go to the airport office and suggest it. People in the aviation industry love to hear from passionate aviation enthusiasts and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to listen. As for Aviation Day, my only grievance is that the weather wasn’t quite the best, but that doesn’t stop us #AvGeeks now, does it?
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