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New Historic Flight Foundation At Felts Field Features Aviation Milestones

Credit Photo by Steve Jackson
John Sessions of the Historic Flight Foundation

Spokane’s Felts Field is home to a new aviation museum that focuses on the golden era of flight.

The display will delight aviation enthusiasts and also serve as an educational tool for area students.

The Historic Flight Foundation is the brainchild of John Sessions, who was raised in Spokane, but in recent years, has called the Seattle area home. The Foundation has been based at Seattle’s Paine Field since 2006. There, several vintage airplanes have been restored to previous glory. 

With more aircraft being acquired, the foundation sought a new site for expansion and chose Spokane’s historic Felts Field.

A brightly lit, massive hangar is being readied for an official opening in December. Inside are numerous historic aircraft, including a DC-3 airliner and an iconic P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

Sessions says the focus of the museum is on the period that began in 1927, with Lindbergh’s solo flight from New York to Paris, to 1957, when the first Boeing 707 jetliner made that same flight, and the Russian Sputnik was launched as the first artificial Earth satellite.

“What an amazing 30-year period, and we don’t pretend there will ever be another period quite like that in aviation. The Boeing Company has introduced two models in the last 20 years. That would have been the expectation in a couple of weeks in the 1930’s,” Sessions said.

Planes in the hangar show that flight evolution, beginning with early fabric-covered, wooden-frame, open-cockpit biplanes. Viewers can also see the first all-aluminum single engine passenger planes, the vintage World War II fighter, and the giant DC-3.

All the planes will be on static display, but Sessions says all are airworthy and will be flown at Felts for special events.

He says one mission of the museum is to inspire young people to strive to achieve all they can in their chosen field.

“We use it as kind of a metaphor for the kids and all the aviation-based STEM activities in which we engage. We say, look, this period will not happen again in aviation, but be ready for 1927 in your field of endeavor. Have skills you need. Understand that the people who did all this, they didn’t look forward to the next day off. Their day off was a waste of time. They wanted to be back to work on their next project. They went to bed when they were tired,” he said.

Sessions is establishing relationships with local schools to be able to offer some STEM programs in the schools to teach subjects related to aviation that will culminate in students visiting the Flight Foundation at Felts to see how it relates to the historic planes on display.

He also says that the museum can be icing on the cake when it comes to courting new businesses, such as aerospace companies, when they come to town to check out Spokane as a possible place to expand their business.

“So all the way home they’re thinking Spokane had this and this.  My goodness, did you see that DC-3? And who cares if that’s the sizzle that closes the deal? You know, rather than the tax rate,” Sessions said.

The Historic Flight Foundation Museum will open at Felts Field on December 17.

EXTRA! Liten below to John Sessions describe at legnth all the planes currently in the Felts Field hanger.


Historic Flight Foundation founder John Sessions discusses several of the planes in the Felts Field hanger with SPR's Steve Jackson.

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.