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FHCAM Restores Aircraft and Vehicles to Their Glory Days

Seattle NorthCountry is the aviation hub of the United States, with Boeing’s main production facility located in Everett, Washington.

Also in Everett is a museum dedicated to the country’s military history—both in the air and on the ground.

The Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to showcase aircraft and tanks from past wars, and in 2018, FHCAM opened their newest hangar, Hangar C, to share a more human side of war.

Hanger C is a massive 32,000 square feet building located right next to the main museum hangars. Like the main hangars, the new facility boasts planes and tanks that actually run and fly—maintained by a staff of mechanics and aviation historians.

Walking into Hangar C, patrons are greeted by a massive open floor with planes, tanks and even military-use cars and motorcycles. The SpaceShipOne, an experimental aircraft built in the early 2000s, hangs from the ceiling.

Unlike the other museum facilities, patrons can walk up-close to get an intimate look at the machinery on display, which was a deliberate tactic by FHCAM curators. Museum curators wanted to convey the hardship of war and the grueling day-to-day tasks that soldiers had to endure. A massive diorama of a restored Pershing tank set in a destroyed Berlin street conveys the power and intensity of the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest battles in World War II.

Museum patrons can get up close and personal with the tanks on the hangar floor. Sticking a head into the porthole of a tank and seeing just how cramped and unforgiving the interior is an exceptional way of making the museum patron think about just how awful riding in one of those things for hours on end must have been.

Crouching under the belly of an airplane makes you realize just how massive the old war planes can be.

The centerpiece of the new hangar, however, is the full, live restoration of a German World War II plane in full view of museum patrons. Mechanics will be restoring the Stuka airplane back to flying shape Monday through Friday until the restoration is complete.

Once fully restored, the Stuka housed in the museum will be the only flyable Stuka aircraft in the world.

On one wall of the hangar, military uniforms from women deployed in combat hang in glass cases. FHCAM hopes to highlight women in war over the next year, bringing in more pieces from the collection. Other exhibits in Hangar C include a display of gear used by horseback troops in World War II and a humbling map of a nuclear blast radius in metropolitan Seattle.

Next to the map is a replica of a nuclear warhead.

The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor museum has events happening year round. Check out their website for more information. If you want to get up close and personal to history, this is the place for you.

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Henry Yarsinske, Jr.

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