USA Northwest 2014


Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Taking my chances on the autumn weather I decided to do a roadtrip in the US Northwest in october. The route started and ended in Portland,OR with Yellowknife Nat'l Park (more or less, for the route was revised to include Greybull,WY) at the far end.
The driven circle route would see various visits for my aviation interest.
This page is dedicated to a visit, on October 15th, to the Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field, Washington.
Nb- except where noted, the previous identities and construction numbers were learned from Bob Ogden's AVIATION MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS OF NORTH AMERICA (2nd Edition, published by Air Britain (Historians), 2011 - a truly wonderful and monument of reference).


Historic Flight at Paine Field

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
The collection housed here is, except that red/white aeroplane in the foreground, owned by John T. Sessions.
I was met upon my visit by Vanessa Dunn (manager, visitor services HFF) and Hans Toorens, volunteer at the HFF;
Hans did me the great pleasure of guiding me through the collection, sharing information on this wonderful collection.

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Beech D17S Staggerwing (UC-43, GB-2) NC35JM (c/n 6914)

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Previous identities: (44-76069), Bu23734, N67737, CF-GLL

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
North American NA-100 (P-51B) Mustang, NX5087F (c/n 104-23025)
Previous identity 42-106638, restored from various components.

The P-51 Mustang, named 'Impatient Virgin' was delivered in early 1944 to the 376th Fighter Squadron based in Bottisham, England. It had 700 hours of combat flying, including four sorties over the D-Day beaches.
Its greatest moment of glory came on 27Sep1944, when it was flying fighter cover for the 445th BG in a mission to Kassel, Germany. While engaged in several furious dogfights, this aircraft downed three 18 Fw-190 fighters, while the rest of the squadron destroyed another 15!

Impatient Virgin's demise came on 22Jun1945, when Flying Officer Wade Ross took her on a very low and fast training flight. Ross got into trouble, bailed out and the plane crashed into a field at Little Walden.
In 2002, while some aviation archeologists were excavating a crash site, a man pointed to a nearby field and said, "That's the one you should be digging up," having actually seen the Mustang crash. The archeologists finally found the crash point and, over three years, recovered the Mustang; the restoration took 33 months. An amazing feat.
(The above from various online sources found googling).


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
An indepth view of the gun positions

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Vickers Supermarine Spitfire LF.IXe, N633VS/SL633 (c/n CBAF-IX-571)
Previous identities: SL633 (Czech), 204 (Israel), UB-245 (Myanmar), 'UB424', G-CZAF

The No.312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron Royal Air Force RAF of Duxford consisted of pilots who fled their homeland during the Nazi occupation. It became one of the most famous RAF squadrons of the war. Karel Posta helped establish the No.312 Sqdn.
Flight Lieutenant Posta survived the Battles of France and Britain, and almost six years of combat sorties.
This Spitfire, produced at the Castle Bromwich factory of Vickers Supermarine, flew with the No.312. It was one of 54 machines given to the newly re-formed Czechoslovak Air Force and was asigned to Posta. Throughout 1945-46, Posta performed solo aerobatic demonstrations in this aircraft for hundreds of thousands of people at significant national holidays, such as National Day, October 28,1945, to raise the self-esteem of a vanquisehd nation.
The 'K' on the nose is the unique identifier of an aircraft flown by Karel Posta.

During the summer of 1948, Czechoslovakia was among the first countries to recognize the new Jewish state in Palestineand provided British-made Spitfires. Ironically, the Avia Kunovice Aviation Repair Shop of Moravia modified the donated Spitfires to receive German-made Me.109 extended range fuel tanks for the long trip to the desert war, the only air war to see Spitfire pitted against Spitfire!
When the Israeli Air Force converted to turbine power in 1954 our Spit was sold to Burma.
Having sustained a 'wheels up' landing accident, our Spit was displayed in a Mandalay museum with a T-6 tail and cellophane windscreen. After several private transactions, the essential components returned to Duxford as a Historic Flying, Ltd. project.

Acquired by HFF in 2007, Historic Flying restored our Spit yo its 1945 specification. The aircraft was delivered to HFF and test flown in October 2010.
The above from a placard on display with SL633 at HFF.

A few more details, found in Scramble magazine no.426 (nov.2014):
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX SL633 (N633VS) made its 1st post-restoration fligh at Paine Field on 15Oct with John Romain at the controls.
Restoration of the fighter, which is owned by John T. Sessions' HFF, began in 2007 with Historic Flying at Duxford,UK. It had its first engine runs in Dec. 2009 and left Duxford in a container on 10 August this year.
The Spitfire was bought out of Burma in 1999, arriving in Duxford in 2002.
Originally delivered to 312 (Czech) Sqdn at Manston on 02Aug1945, it was flown by Flt Lt Karel Posta DFC, a founder member of the unit, who Had escaped from France in September 1940. In Feb. 1946 SL633 was repainted and coded JT-10. It now wears these markings again.
The fighter went to the Israeli Air Force in early 1949 as 20-42, and moved to Burma as UB-425 six years later.


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver AL.1 N779XP/'52-6132' (c/n 1450)
Previous identities: XP779, G-BTDL, G-DHCB, C-FLOR
An extensive history & images can be found on Neil Aird's wonderful website,

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
The spotless cockpit of this DHC-2 Beaver: bushpilots should wipe their muddy boots here!

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
A very, very impressive warbird: Grumman G-51 (F7F-3) Tigercat NX6178C (c/n C.225), named 'Bad Kitty'.
Former Bu80483.

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field

History by 
Cal-Nat Airways, Grass Valley, CA, 1964-1966.
- Registered as N6178C.
- Flew as tanker #E43.
Sis-Q Flying Service, Santa Rosa, CA, 1969-1985.
Macavia International Corp, Santa Rosa, CA, June 1985-1986.
- Flew as tanker #E43.
Weeks Air Museum, Tamiami, FL, 1987-1988.
- Stored Santa Rosa, CA.
Lea Aviation (US) Inc, Tampa, FL/Duxford, UK, 1988-1993.
- Arrived Duxford, Nov. 13, 1988.
- Operated by Plane Saling Air Displays.
- Flew as USN/JW/483.
Richard Bertea, Chino CA, 1993-2002.
Historic Flight Foundation, Seattle, WA, March 2006-2011.
- Flown as Bad Kitty.


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat NX800H, ex/ Bu121752. Not listed in Bob Ogden's 2011 publication.

Following found on Geoff Goodall's warbird website:

John W. Dorr, Orinda CA [.58/64]
Thomas P. Mathews, Monterey CA (race #10 Tom's Cat) [.64/68]
Walter E. Ohlrich, Norfolk VA (race #10 Miss Priss, Tonopah Queen) [.68/72]
John Herlihy, Montara CA (race #8 Sweet Pea) [.72/73]
Harold Beal, Knoxville TN [.73/75]
Harold Beal & Charles Smith/ B&S Advertising, Knoxville TN (race #8 Precious Bear) [.75/77]
Whittington Brothers Inc/ World Jet Inc, West Palm Beach FL (race #8 Bearcat Bill) [.77/95]
Doug W. Arnold/ Warbirds of GB Ltd, Biggin Hill [.90/92]
(shipped to UK, arr. Felixstowe Docks 12.90;
towed on wheels to Ispwich Airport 30.12.90,
flown to Biggin Hill 30.12.90; stored Bournemouth,
del. Bournemouth-Lelystad, Netherlands 23.11.92 for further storage)
Iron Baron Corp, Dover DE [5.94/95]
The Fighter Collection, Duxford UK .95/98 (del. Duxford ex storage Lelystad 25.10.95,
flies as USN "106/A")
Bill Anders/ Talon Investments, Eugene OR [3.98/99]
(flown to Le Havre, then shipped USA 6.98, flies as USN '106/A Wampus Cat')
Bill Anders/ Heritage Flight Museum, Eastsound WA [15.4.99/05]
John T. Sessions/ FWF Ltd/ John Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation, Seattle WA [7.9.06/14]

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Piper L-4J (J-3C-65D) Grasshopper N68935 / 45-4955 (c/n 13695).

The following information was provided by the HFF:
Historic Flight’s Piper L-4J was delivered to the US Army Air Force on June 8th 1945 as S/N 45-4955. The brand new L-4 was sent straight to the Pacific Theater where it served on the Philippine and Ryukyu Islands.
After VJ Day, 45-4955 remained in the Pacific until 1947, where it was decommissioned on the Island of Okinawa and joined the civilian world as NC68935.
It was then purchased by an ex-US Army pilot for $600 and shipped back to the USA.
The aircraft has remained very much intact, and though restored, it is seen here with over 95% of its original parts.
The quality of this aircraft reflects the care and attention of Neil Seaton, its previous owner.
NC68935 is powered by a Continental 0-170-3, 65 horsepower engine. It cruises at 80mph and stalls at 32mph. Its range is 2.5 hours with 12 US gallons of fuel.

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Waco UPF-7 NC32018 (c/n 5650); formerly NC32018, N32018

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
N14307 was registered to Jim Moss (of Buckley,WA) on 06May2014. Manufacture date listed on FAA site: 2013.

The Gee Bee Model R Super Sportster was a special purpose racing aircraft made by Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachusetts. Gee Bee stands for Granville Brothers. The 1932 R-1 and its sister plane, the R-2 (seen above), were the successors of the previous year's Thompson Trophy-winning Model Z. --Wikipedia
This racer, I am told, is not part of the John T. Sessions collection but parked here for reasons of convenience.
The flying characteristics of such an aircraft, originally built for racing purposes with few rudder actions
and limited maneuverability, is quite different from the other aircraft here on display.

Nigel Hitchman has a detaied background on N14307:
"N14307 isn't a Gee Bee R-2, it is a QED (R-6H) replica; it is much bigger than the R-2, powered by a R-1820 out of a Super DC-3.
It was built by Jim Moss and friends; Jim died last year (I think) and his friends finished it off and took it to Oshkosh. It was based on a smallish airpark out to the east of Auburn and the runway is only just long enough for the QED, so he kept it at Olympia for the initial test flying in the summer of 2013, bringing it back to the airstrip for the winter; but I guess they are now housing it here at HFF.
The original QED was a participant in the 1934 Mildenhall to Melbourne MacRobertson Air Race, flown by Jackie Cocheran, but didn't get very far. It also failed to win a couple of Thompson Trophy and Bendix Trophy races in the US. It was then flown by a Mexican who broke quite a few records, but eventually it crashed into the Potamac river, killing him, but the aircraft wasn't that badly damaged. It was recovered and eventually restored and is now on display at Cuidad Lerdo, near Torrejon in Mexico."

N14307 attended the AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2014, as can be seen on this photoreport (text in Dutch):

Greg Lee added: As far as I know, Benjamin's R2 is still at the Fantasy of Flight in Florida:

Historic Flight at Paine Field


We went outside, taking the oportunity of a brief dry spell, to have a look at the Beech C-45, the Douglas DC-3 and the Mitchell B-25 bomber.

Beechcraft RC-45J (SNB-5P) 29585 (N585PB, c/n 721).
"Originally built as a navigation trainer during World War II, this Beechcraft was assigned Bureau of Aeronautics number 29585 for service with the US Navy. BuAer 29585 was overhauled and configured for service as a photo reconnaissance trainer in the 1950s, and it served with the Navy's Photo School at Pensacola, Florida until its retirement to desert storage in 1972. After 24 years of storage the airplane was acquired by Taigh Ramey (registered N75018 -Webmaster), who made it airworthy once again while preserving the airplane's unique and historic configuration and equipment. This wonderful Beech has been sold to a great guy (Michael E. Kopp -Webmaster) in the Seattle area and will soon be heading to her new home."
From: (the link offers also images of 4P 29585 prior to its restoration, as well as interesting comments on its prior use and career).
Video (2002) footage prior to its move to Seattle on YouTube

From my own files: Reg'd 27Jul07 to Michael E. Kopp of Maple Valley,WA. Mr Kopp donated this 'Photo Beech' to the HFF and the tailnumber was changed from N75018 to N585PB.
FAA website 'N-inquiry' has it as RC-45J N585PB Reg'd 02Jul2013 to HFF.

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field

The following information was kindly provided by the HFF:
'Originally procured under a 1944 Army Air Corps contract for AT-7 Navigator Trainers, this aircraft was redirected for Navy use with the Navy designation of SNB-2C, Navigator Trainer, Bureau No. 29585. The Navy needed navigators for long-range patrol aircraft and bombers.
One of the great success stories of World War II: the United States trained tens of thousands of multi-engine pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and gunners - what appeared to the Germans and Japanese to be an endless supply. Many were trained in different versions of the Beech 18.

After the war, the Navy used 29585 in various utility roles at Navy bases across the United States.
'In 1951, it was returned to Beechcraft to be rebuilt and upgraded. It became one of 43 Navy Beech 18s converted to aerial photography platforms and was used for ground mapping, missions involving ship and port photography, air-to-air photography, reconnaissance, and finally training naval photographic
mates and reconnaissance pilots.
After retiring from the Navy in 1972, 29585 became N585PB: PB stands for 'Photo Beech' and is unique in that it is in almost the same condition now as when it retired from Navy service - including the optical glass for the cameras and vacuum tube radios.
N585PB is powered by two Pratt & Whitney R985 radial engines of 450 horsepower each, resulting in a cruise speed of 170 mph. This engine also powers the Beechcraft Staggerwing and the deHavilland Beaver.
After World War II, Beechcraft sold many Beech 18s for corporate, regional airline, and private use. In all, over 9.000 were manufactured!
Thank you to Michael Kopp for his generous donation of N585PB to Historic Flight Foundation!'

As evidence of good care see the images Dirk Septer sent me, taken 16Jul2016 of N585PB in maintenance with Sealand Aviation of Campbell River, B.C.


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Douglas DC-3A-467 N877MG (c/n 20806) was registered to the HFF on 31Oct2012.
I have quite a history with this Gooney Bird, having first encountered it in 1997! See my report HERE..
And compare it to my 2010 report prior to being repainted to its present PAA livery. Also included more pics of its interior.

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Wonderful to see this vintage transport continue in operation while in the background those Boeing 787s are doomed!

Check out also Kent Wien ('Fly For Fun') on, for he flew this DC-3 to the Westcoast in april 2007,
from NY to Seattle.

The interior:
John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field

John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
Copy of the log detailing the ferry flight from Miami to Calcutta, India for WW2 service 'Flying the Hump'.

I came across N877MG once more, at Flabob airport in California; see MY CALIFORNIA 2018 page 2 REPORT.


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
North American B-25D Mitchell 'Grumpy' N88972 / VO-B (c/n 100-23644)
Previous identities: 43-3318, G-BYDR, KL161
Shortly after my visit Grumpy was ferried to Campbell on Vancouver Island for a fresh paintjob by Sealand Aviation.
Dirk Septer sent me an image, in the sun at Campbell River,BC. And in May 2015 Grumpy undergoing going painting.

Wikipedia has a list of surviving B-25s: List_of_surviving_North_American_B-25_Mitchells

Geoff Goodall's website has a very detailed history on N88972:

(to RAF as KL161): not dlvd, diverted RCAF
(to RCAF as KL161): BOC 19.1.45.
Retired, stored Lincoln Park,ALB. SOC [27.2.61]
Joe E. Goldney, Vancouver BC [12.2.62]
(ex Crown Assets Disposal Corp 16.2.62, ferry permit 2.62 Claresholm AB to Vancouver, planned conv. to fire tanker not completed)
Sports Air Inc, Seattle WA [3.66]
San Juan Agencies Inc [1966]
North Star Aviation Corp, Fairbanks AK (river sanding/retardant tank installed 8.67) [12.66/69]
Colco Aviation Inc, Fairbanks AK (wfu open storage, Fairbanks AK 77/81) [4.69/72]
N. Merrill Wien, Anchorage AK & Kent WA [5.80/87]
Robert J. Pond, Plymouth MN: opb. TFC [8.10.87/95]
The Fighter Collection, Duxford UK: delivered [7.11.87/99]
Patina Ltd/ The Fighter Collection, Duxford (flew as RAF 'KL161/VO-B Grumpy') [22.3.99/02]
Paul G. Allen/ Vulcan Warbirds Inc, Seattle WA [.02/04]
Vulcan Warbirds Inc, Seattle WA (ferried Duxford to North Weald 14.7.04 parked at North Weald at Aces High hangar 04/08; del. to Duxford 9.6.08, for planned ferry to US) [20.4.04/08]
Kilo-6 Collection, Paine Field WA [.08]
Vulcan Warbirds Inc, Seattle WA [12.08]
John T. Sessions/ Historic Flight Foundation, Seattle WA [20.3.09/14]
(dep. Duxford on del. 29.8.09, delayed at Abbotsford BC, arr. Paine Field WA 1.11.09, flies as 'KL161/VO-B Grumpy')
(USCR quotes c/n 100-20644 for N25644)


John T. Sessions'  Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) at Paine Field
A view from the DC-3 cockpit, noticing the Boeing Dreamlifter taking off from Paine Field.

Due to a busy schedule I had to make a choice in visiting The Historic Flight Foundation or Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection, both situated at Paine Field. The latter is a collector while Mr Sessions flies his own planes and is a true enthusiast, so the choice was obvious to me.

John T. Sessions is the founder of the Historic Flight Foundation (HFF), a non-profit foundation headquartered at Paine Field Airport (Mukilteo, Washington State).
It is not a museum in a sense that there are indeed aircraft on display but you won't see ropes around the aircraft, few memorabilia and the big difference: all aircraft are regularly flown. Whilst spotless, the experience is rather more a walk around in a working hangar with operational aircraft ready to fly or being worked on.
I have to add that the aircraft look impeccable and shiny: the love for these vintage aeroplanes by dedicated volunteers and crew certainly rub off and show in their flawless condition.

John Sessions is CEO at Bakken Housing Company, according to his LinkedIn page. Elsewhere he is described as 'an attorney, businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist'.
His passion for aviation began with a spontaneous visit in 1983 to a flying club at Boeing Field. He got interested, started flying small Cessnas, graduated to bush planes, and then added floats. Later he moved to corporate jets and received his Airline Transport Pilot license with a single-pilot rating in the CJ series.
Several thousand hours later, the call of fast stick-and-rudder pulled him into the world of classic Warbirds. Today, he flies P-51B 'Impatient Virgin' and he’s rated to fly most of the HFF aircraft collection and indeed 'most' is expected to become 'all'.

Launched in 2003, updated in 2006 and opened to the public in 2010, Historic Flight features a collection of 12 rebuilt and airworthy vintage military and civilian aircraft.

The collection
NORTH AMERICAN T-6A (Ogden listed it without a serial, alas missed it on my walkround - N512SE, see remarks below)
CANADAIR T-33 SILVERSTAR (not seen present, Ogden listed it as N303FS, ex/ RCAF 21342 and N144M)*

)* Hans wrote me on the T-33 I hadn't seen: "The T-33 really does exist: in bits and pieces. The fuselage is in a different hangar at Paine Field, not accessible to visitors.
The Rolls Royce Nene jet engine is on display in the hangar, as are the canopy and ejector seats.
Not sure if or when the airplane will be 'whole' again, and if it will ever fly."
And on a MIG-29 which had been listed in the past: "it has been transferred to the Flying Heritage Collection a few years ago – they're also at Paine Field."
And Hans told me about the T-6A Texan: "It is my understanding that this aircraft is a 'composite' of multiple T-6 airplanes – a practice not uncommon to vintage aircraft restorations. I took some pictures of the plates and tail number".
Serial plates
Type designation is both SNJ-5C and AT6-A (sic). BuNo 09908, acceptance 1959. North American seems to have the serial as JS88 9421. Which is copied on that yellowich plate, now including the N512SE tailnumber.
The FAA website ('N-inquiry') showed (nov.2014) for serial number: JS 88-9421 and gave as it manufacturer: North American / Victoria Mnt Lt. Mfr Year 1958. Tail N512SE certificate issued 01Apr2013 for FWF Ltd of Seattle,WA.
Have been unable to come with a clarification for 'VICTORIA MNT LT' but found it googling more often connected to North American AT-6 arframes; perhaps a specific production plant ?

HFF provided the following information:
North American Aviation T-6A
In 1937, the U.S. Army Air Corps selected North American Aviation’s T-6 advanced trainer to transition fighter pilots from primary trainers, such as the Boeing Stearman and deHavilland Tigermoth, to front-line fighters such as the P-40 Warhawk and eventually the P-51 Mustang. This aircraft, with its Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial
engine, was faster than the biplane primary trainers, and fully aerobatic.
Its combination of speed and weight, and the need for stick and rudder skills, either confirmed an aviation career path or suggested that another type of military service would be more suitable.
Canadian and British variants of this aircraft include the 'Harvard'and 'Yale'. The Army Air Corps version, the T-6,
became know as the 'Texan'. And the Navy version became the SN-J.
In all an amazing 15.495 were built.

N512SE spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in the paint scheme of the Argentine Navy, where it completed 6.346 flying hours as a fighter and trainer. A serious accident created a restoration opportunity.
After several changes in ownership, Historic Flight Foundation rebuilt the remains into this pristine example now used to keep its pilots current and offer flight experiences to the general public.




Historic Flight at Paine Field

(Note: the HFF should not be confused with the Historical Flight Foundation, residing in Florida, involved with Douglas DC-7B N836D)

HFF has a gallery on where contributors can upload their HFF images.







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Propliners in the US Northwest 2014; PAGE 1 - Washington State

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