Father, son fly WWII fighter planes at Paine Field

EVERETT — It being Father’s Day weekend, the air-show crowd included a lot of dads of all ages.

More than 2,200 people attended the free Fly Day Saturday at the Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field to watch father-and-son pilots Bud Granley of Bellevue and Ross Granley of Mill Creek at the controls of the collection’s World War II fighter airplanes, among them a North American P-51D Mustang and a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt.

With the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop, Bud Granley, 76, in the P-51, and Ross Granley, 49, in the P-47, took to the sunny skies to show off what these old warbirds can do.

Ross Granley let his dad take the lead as they climbed to 2,000 feet. Longtime airline pilots and air show enthusiasts, the Granleys have flying in their blood and they anticipate each other’s moves.

As a finale, the Granleys made sideways belly passes and “banana” passes low and close in front of the cheering crowd, displaying the undersides and topsides of the planes.

Bob Whitley of Mill Creek came to the show with his daughters, Jasmine, 9, and Emma, 8.

“I’ve always been into airplanes and we recently became members of the Flying Heritage Collection museum,” Whitley said. “It’s fun to come out with the kids.”

After the show, the Granleys left their flight suits on and sat down inside the collection’s main hangar to autograph free postcards of the airplanes. People who had traveled from throughout Snohomish County and as far away as Vancouver, B.C., and Portland, Ore., for the show gushed about the father-son duo’s talents.

The Granleys made it clear that it’s a privilege and an honor to fly some of the planes in Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection. The collection has nine pilots who lend their talents to help keep the vintage planes in flying shape.

Ross Granley is a third-generation Canadian pilot. His grandfather was the first pilot in the family’s town in Alberta and his dad learned to fly at age 9.

Like his father, Ross Granley served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and, also like his dad, he’s had a career as a pilot for United Airlines.

“I grew up watching my dad and my uncles on both sides having a lot of fun flying planes,” Ross Granley said. “I’ve been terribly fortunate to be a pilot. I wouldn’t know what else to do. I might be able to dig ditches.”

Bud Granley shares the same attitude.

“When I was a boy, I prayed, ‘Dear Lord, make me the best pilot in the world.’ That’s how serious it’s been for me,” the older pilot said. “Now Ross and I get to play together at Paine Field in Everett, which is becoming a major destination for people who love airplanes.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

More flights ahead

The Flying Heritage Collection includes iconic 20th century military flying machines restored to their original working condition. Earlier this year, the collection opened a second hangar and added new exhibits.

The remainder of the free Fly Days this summer include, tentatively, Pacific Legends Day on June 29, Allied Aces Day on July 20, Luftwaffe Day on Aug. 17, the Battle of Britain Day on Sept. 7 and Air War Over Russia Day on Sept. 21. The free air shows start about noon. The collection is housed at 3407 109th St. SW, Everett.

For more information about the museum and its events and admission prices, go to www.flyingheritage.com.

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