Sketched March 11, 2014
Museums are more fun when you can meet the people working behind the scenes. The Museum of Flight in Seattle is unique in just that way. Its restoration center in Everett is actually open to the public.
So, say you want to see this FM-2 Wildcat fighter before it’s displayed at the museum next month. Head up to the center’s hangar next to Paine Field to talk to volunteers who’ve worked on it for years. You may run into James Jackson, who is 98 and served in Guam during World War II. Those new hinges on the wings? He built them. Or you may see Ross Michel working on a Russian Antonov biplane that touched down on the North Pole in 1998. It was part of a mission to commemorate the first flight over the Arctic 70 years earlier.
Every plane and every volunteer I met had an interesting story. Had I known about the center before I visited the Museum of Flight on East Marginal Wayon East Marginal Way, I think I would have come here first.
Retired Boeing employee Terry “TC” Howard gave me a tour of the historic aircraft parked outside the hangar. I took advantage of the sunny skies to pen a quick sketch that I colored later. This is the first 727 jetliner to roll off the Boeing assembly line, said Howard. It’s parked not far from the runway at Paine Field where it landed for the first time in 1963.
Ross Michel, far left, crawls under the belly of a Russian Antonov aircraft undergoing restoration.