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Historic Flight Foundation Air Show at Felts Field

Spokane residents had a chance to see a unique group of vintage aircraft over the weekend at Felts Field, as planes from the Historic Flight Foundation paid a visit.

It was quite a sight to behold as several vintage piston driven aircraft were lined up on the tarmac at Felts Field.

They included a P-51 Mustang ,T6A,  F8F Bearcat Fighter, TBM Avenger, DHC-2 Beaver, and the classic airliner of the late 1930’s, the Douglas DC 3.

Members of the media were given an opportunity to take a short flight on the DC3. This plane revolutionized the airline industry, and over sixteen thousand copies of the plane were made. A huge number of those served as military transport during World War II, with the designation of C-47.

Pilot, Eugene Vizzetti says this particular plane, now in classic American Airlines paint scheme, was originally military transport:

“This was one of 300, built specifically to fly the hump to get supplies into China, when the Japanese took over all the highways going to Nanching in China. We had to get supplies pretty much from India, over the Himalayas into China.”

After the war, the plane did service as a Chinese Airliner, before being purchased by a couple of American companies, including Johnson and Johnson, who used it as a corporate airliner. The cabin remains the same as that era, featuring two large bunks, and rather luxurious captain’s chairs.

On my own short flight in the vintage airliner, I was struck by how relatively modern the plane seems, given that the first DC-3s began flying in 1936. The flight was at low altitude over Spokane, and the winds that day made the flight feel like you were on a rather large boat, bobbing around in the sky.

The Historic Flight Foundation is run by John Sessions, who is qualified to fly most of the planes in the collection, ranging from a post-world war one biplane, to a Korean war era F-86 Sabre Jet.

For John, the collection represents the golden era of the age of flight, where new planes were being developed every week, and where the pioneers of that era, can serve as inspiration to us, in this much different age:

“We had courageous people, innovative entrepreneurs. We had people taking risks, flying these things every weekend, if they succeeded, they could have a government contract, have many companions, they were like rock stars, but if they didn’t succeed they could pay with their lives.”

If you missed last weekend’s show at Felts Field, you can always visit the Historic Flight Foundation at Payne Field, in Everett, Washington.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.