Fly Boy Toys

By Sarah Anderson January 3, 2009 Published in the May 2008 issue of Seattle Met

PAUL ALLEN LOVES HIS TOYS. And like the full-grown kid next door that he is, Paul Allen loves showing them off. Next month he’ll be flaunting some of his coolest stuff—World War I and II aircraft. The Flying Heritage Collection, a permanent exhibit housed in a 1940s hangar at Paine Field, features 15 military planes, most of which saw battle in history-making wars. “This is one of the largest flying collections in the Northwest, and one of the most important collections in the country,” says executive director Adrian Hunt.

The planes, some found buried, some abandoned where they crash-landed over half a century ago, represent all five major WWII combatants—the U.S., Britain, Russia, Germany, and Japan—and innovations that took place between 1935 and 1945, a time of great technological advancements in design, propulsion, and production. The German Komet, for instance, was the first rocket-powered plane. The Russian Rata was the first plane with retractable wheels, giving it a more aerodynamic body during flight. During WWII the British Supermarine Spitfire (above) helped recapture German-occupied France. The German Messerschmitt BF 109 series (far right) made more aerial kills than any aircraft in the war.

All 15 birds have been immaculately restored, with most in flying condition. Starting in June, they’ll take to the skies twice a month.

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