They may sputter, putter and hiss a little when they start, but every single one of the vintage airplanes at Historic Flight Foundation’s new museum at Felts Field is airworthy.
“They are real planes. They all fly, every one of them,” said Historic Flight Foundation founder John T. Sessions. Sessions is almost done moving his collection of vintage planes from Everett’s Paine Field to a newly constructed hangar at Felts Field in Spokane. “It’s taken some time to get here. You always underestimate what’s involved in a move.”
The museum was ready to go full steam ahead with exhibits, learning programs, children’s camps and events when COVID hit, and all the best laid plans crashed.
But with the recent change in COVID restrictions, the museum can finally open: The grand re-opening will be on September 3 and the museum will be open from then on, Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.“We are so excited to be able to open again,” said Executive Director Sheila Geraghty.
During the quiet months, Historic Flight has hosted tarmac tours where visitors got to drive close by the museum’s 12 airworthy planes and vintage automobiles.
"That has been very cool,” Geraghty said. “People really love it. They bring coffee and sit in the car and just have a good time.”
On July Fourth, Historic Flight Foundation organized the flyover of the five restored WW II airplanes that weaved their way over Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, with a stop at Felt’s Field.
“The place was just packed,” Geraghty said. “Some veterans feel a very emotional bond with the planes they flew. One of them walked up and kissed the propeller – it was pretty amazing.”
But Sessions is not deterred by the slow start in Spokane.
“This is a great home for us,” Sessions said. “There is a very active vintage flying community here and that’s important to us.”
A soft-spoken man, the longtime aviator founded the museum to focus on what he calls the golden era of flight: 1927 to 1957.
“That’s the time when flight really took off,” Sessions said. “These planes are pieces of living history. Think of how much aviation technology changed in just those 30 years.”
Sessions, who’s an active pilot, was part of a squadron of restored WW II C47 warplanes that flew from the United States to Britain and on to Normandy on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“What can I say?” Sessions said. “We are a flying museum – we fly everything.”
The Historic Flight Foundation is located at 5829 E Rutter Avenue. Call: (509) 535-6000
Together, Avista and the Avista Foundation have given more than $1.5M in charitable gifts across all five states in our service area this year and the Historic Flight Foundation is one of them.