MUKILTEO — Dozens of airplanes will be swooping and soaring over Paine Field on Saturday, showing off for thousands of spectators on hand for the airport’s 20th Aviation Day.
The event is really about reaching out to people who live near the airport, which is busy with thousands of general aviation flights each year, said Les Smith, head of the Washington Pilots Association.
Beautifully restored warbirds from World War II and other eras will be on display. On Friday, volunteers were lining up some of the airplanes on the tarmac outside the Historic Flight Foundation. More will be on view at the Flying Heritage Collection on the other side of the airport.
The event’s $10 admission gets visitors into both museums. Kids under 17 get in for free.
The ticket price defrays the cost of putting on Aviation Day, but it doesn’t cover everything. Much of the cost is picked up by Paine Field, owned by Snohomish County, Smith said. The airport is self-funding through fees, leases and other revenue streams.
Aviation Day started as a way to connect with people living around the airport, said Stephanie Allen, who helped organize the inaugural event. “It was a grassroots outreach effort” by the airport and the Washington Pilots Association.
Allen will be flying on Saturday, leading a formation flight by the Beech Boys Formation. She’ll be flying a 1969 Cessna Skyhawk, followed by three 1950s-era Beechcraft Bonazas. One of those Bonazas will be flown by her husband, Rick Jones.
As a wingman, Jones will be focused on staying in formation.
“As the lead, I’m flying for every plane in the group,” Allen said.
They’ll make three passes in different formations. On the pass, the planes will peel off one at a time in two-second intervals, turn 180 degrees and come in for a landing in quick succession.
Kids ages 8 to 17 can get a free ride thanks to the Young Eagles, a national program which takes hundreds of thousands of kids up in the air each year.
The event’s organizers include the Washington Pilots Association, the airport administration and several historic aviation organizations, including the Historic Flight Foundation, Flying Heritage Collection and the Museum of Flight Restoration Center.