Spokane, Washington’s Felts Field is home to the Historic Flight Foundation (HFF), an aviation museum dedicated to the history of flight. A collection of historic aircraft from the period between Charles Lindbergh’s solo Atlantic crossing in 1927 and the first commercial flight of the Boeing 707 in 1957, a 30-year period during which airplanes evolved from relatively simple wood and fabric biplanes to commercial jets, are housed at the museum, where they are restored and flown regularly.
As a result of the presence of commercial aviation service at Paine Field in Mukilteo, Washington, the museum was forced to transfer from its prior location in that city to Spokane, Washington in the spring of 2020.
The Douglas DC-3 in the collection was built at the Douglas Aircraft Company’s Long Beach plant during World War II as one of only 300 DC-3s that were specifically designed to “fly the hump,” which is the eastern edge of the Himalayan Mountains, during the war.
The aircraft have been completely restored to flying condition, and they are now flown routinely during monthly summer Fly Days, HFF’s September Vintage Aircraft Weekend, and Paine Field’s Aviation Day in May, among other events.. The aircraft regularly participates in air shows around the Western United States and Canada.
Throughout the year, HFF offers a variety of educational activities. This comprises a STEM curriculum for primary through high school students, historic airplane ground schools, and historic aircraft flight instruction. Speakers from the HFF Speaker’s Bureau deliver instructional presentations on a variety of aviation topics and about the airplanes in the collection on an ongoing basis.
HFF also specializes in restoring antique aircraft to their original flying condition. Fortunately, some of this restoration work is done in-house at HFF’s hangar, where visitors may see as the work is being carried out. In addition, outside businesses that specialize in the restoration of specific aircraft types are hired to complete the balance of the restoration work. In September 2017, two of Historic Flight’s aircraft were recognized for their restoration efforts at the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, which was held at the California Capital Airshow in Sacramento.
The Historic Flight Foundation was created in 2003 by John T. Sessions, who began acquiring the foundation’s aircraft the following year. In 2006, the museum began planning the construction of a hangar at Paine Field that would house the foundation’s aircraft collection, which was initially housed in a temporary structure. The hangar at HFF first opened its doors to the general public in March 2010.
The collection is constantly expanding as more planes are acquired. Most recently added to the collection is the de Havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide, which first appeared on the grounds in May of this year. The plane was damaged in an accident that occurred in 2018 and resulted in Sessions’ injury.
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