Magazine article Sunset

Seattle's Grand Aircraft Showcase

Magazine article Sunset

Seattle's Grand Aircraft Showcase

Article excerpt

Seattle's grand aircraft showcase

Six stories tall, the new glass-sheathedGreat Gallery at Seattle's Museum of Flight is a bold example of contemporary architecture. Designed by Seattle architect Ibsen Nelsen, it sits at the edge of a legendary airstrip, busy Boeing Field.

Inside is a collection of aircraft worthy ofthe building's daring design. Sponsors say you won't see anything like it outside the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. In a single, sweeping exhibit in one grand space, the history of flight can be reviewed at a glance. Of 30 mostly vintage aircraft, 19 are suspended from the sloping ceiling, seeming to fly in formation above you.

The museum is privately funded, not asubsidiary of The Boeing Company. But the collection reflects Boeing's and the West's preeminence in passenger aircraft: Boeing is the world's top producer, McDonnell Douglas in Los Angeles the third. You'll see a replica of Boeing's first airplane (the 1916 B & W), a 1928 P-12 biplane fighter, and a 1929 80A-1 passenger model. But aircraft from Beech, Douglas, Fairchild, Grumman, Northrop, Stearman, and smaller designers make up the bulk of the collection.

Pioneer flying machines and experimentaldesigns are very much in evidence. Look for a 1926 Swallow Mailplane, a replica of the 1902 Wright Glider, a 1962 Bowers Fly Baby towable home-built, a Kasperwing ultralight, a 1953 Benson Gyrocopter, a Fournier RF-4D powered glider, a Czech-built Lunak unpowered glider.

Two more planes are displayed outsideand another pair inside the Red Barn, Boeing's original 1916 manufacturing plant, restored and opened in 1983 as the museum's first facility. …

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