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The Aviation District & the Pioneers of Aerospace

​In less than a century’s time, humans went from traveling by foot to flying in the air and standing on the moon.

This is the story of aerospace technology, and a lot of that story was written here, in the heart of the PNW.

Modern flight didn’t begin in the Northwest, but it was developed and perfected here. We are a region full of trees and waterways. Early seaplane enthusiasts like William Boeing knew the value of using local timber to make airplanes that could be shipped from Puget Sound.

There is something about this region that encourages bold moves, like the desire to pursue the perfection of flight.

Today’s visitors to Seattle NorthCountry can experience six attractions in the Aviation District that will deepen their appreciation for the pioneering spirit of aviation in this place.


FHCAM shows off a working tank.

Origins of Paine Field

The location of Paine Field wasn’t chosen by accident: the airfield sits above the fog on the edge of the continent, allowing air traffic control to have unrestricted views of airplanes taking off and landing.

Paine Field — developed, owned, and operated by Snohomish County — began as a Citizens Conservation Corps employment project during the depression. The government brought in workers to help turn a wooded tract of land into an airport that would serve as a main hub for the region. After World War II began, the airport was converted into a center for military operations.

(Fun fact: nearby downtown Everett was home to a Boeing fuselage factory during World War II. Women riveters worked in what is now the Public Market Building on California and Grand Avenue.)

After the war ended, Paine Field didn’t become the airline commercial hub that it was originally intended to be; the distinction of biggest regional airport went to SeaTac Airport in South Puget Sound. Instead, it became home to a Boeing plant and, eventually, the brand-new Paine Field Passenger Terminal, completed in 2019.


This B-52 has been restored down to its bomb bay decals.

Attractions

Here are the Aviation District attractions that today’s visitors can enjoy.

Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum — the two-hangar facility at FHCAM houses the late millionaire Paul Allen’s private collection of restored vintage airplanes and tanks. It's also home to the interpretive center "Why War?" which uses cutting-edge kiosks to explore the moral dimensions around armed conflict.

Boeing Future of Flight Gallery and Tour — an international destination for aerospace enthusiasts. The Future of Flight has a gallery, a café, and the official Boeing gift shop. The building is also the jumping-off point for the incredible Boeing Factory Tour, which takes visitors through the largest building on earth, by volume.

Historic Flight Foundation — this restoration center is privately owned. A team of dedicated volunteers lovingly restore fully-functional airplanes. The pride of this museum is the B-29 "Grumpy," which just got a new set of engines.

High Trek Adventures — a family-friendly high ropes course with laser tag and axe-throwing.

The Museum of Flight Restoration Center — the restoration center for Seattle’s Museum of Flight is a 23,000 square-foot facility where acquired aircraft are hosted and lovingly restored by volunteers. Take a tour to get an up-close look at the handiwork done by these mechanics.

Paine Field (PAE) — this boutique regional airport opened in 2019 and serves markets like Denver, Portland, and San Francisco. It's a quick trip on a short route from the front door to the lounge where you'll wait to board your flight.

Nearby amenities — the seaside city of Mukilteo is right next door to the Aviation District. Visit Mukilteo for dining, lodging, clam chowder, beer, and ferry rides.


Historic Flight's "Grumpy" - a fully-functional B-25 bomber.

There's a continuity here in the Northwest. The past of aviation meets the present as our region looks to the future.

From seaplanes to space stations: think of the Aviation District as a modern gateway to the PNW. This is a place where your imagination can take flight.


Plan your trip today

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Managing Editor
Richard Porter
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