By Terry Stephens
One of the most popular attractions at Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field’s (PAE) General Aviation Day this year was a rare twin-engine Grumman F7F Tigercat. Owned by Seattle attorney John Sessions, the plane will be among the aircraft displayed soon at his Historic Aircraft Foundation air museum.
Grumman built only 364 of the planes, near the end of World War II but not in time to see combat service. Only six of the planes are known to exist in flying condition, including Sessions’ Tigercat, which flew at the event in formation with his P-51 Mustang.
When Session’s historic aircraft display opens later this year, in a new hangar at Paine Field, it will join the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour facility, the aircraft restoration center for the Museum of Flight and Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection of warbirds at the airport.
Together, the four tour destinations make Paine Field a major Pacific Northwest attraction for aviation, history and technology enthusiasts.
More than 2,100 visitors attended the event for its 13th annual community gathering, which was started by the Paine Field chapter of the Washington Pilots Association. Now the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce co-sponsors the annual event with the airport.
“The Paine Field Firefighter Pancake Breakfast generated $1,900 in donations for the Northwest Burn Foundation, and the Mukilteo chamber’s Taste of Mukilteo raised $2,200 for its scholarship fund,” said Dave Waggoner, airport director.
Pilots from the WPA’s Paine Field chapter provided free flights for 230 Young Eagles, part of its annual orientation program for youths. Each year the attendance, events and displays continue to grow, Waggoner said.
Coinciding with Armed Forces Day, the free event also featured vintage military aircraft from the Cascade Warbirds, a formation flyover by the Arlington-based Black Jack Squadron and aircraft from the Historic Aircraft Foundation, along with dozens of civilian general aviation planes on display.
Another attraction for the crowd was attendance by the Tyee Triumph Club, which displayed a wide range of vintage vehicles. Nearby, another display included a variety of Paine Field’s old and new fire trucks.
Information booths and displays were set up for Angel Flight West, Civil Air Patrol, Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, FALLS Cooperative Preschool, Totem Council of the Girl Scouts, KeyBank, Microsoft, Purrfect Pals, Women in Aviation, Children’s Air Corps Guild, Eastside Family Health Center, the Future of Flight & Boeing Tour facility and Paine Field flight schools Northwest Aviation Center, Northway Aviation and Regal Air.
Helicopters from Arlington’s Phoenix Rotorcraft attracted crowds, and tent displays included GA movies and a Microsoft Flight Simulator presentation with crowd participation.
The adjacent Everett Community College Aviation School offered tours. The school is home to a growing aviation maintenance technician training facility, where students learn to work on engines as well as new composite aviation technology. An expansion of the center will be underway later this year.
For more information about the Paine Field chapter of the Washington Pilots Association, visit [http://www.wpa-paine.org].