Paine Field may add to aviation attractions

EVERETT — Snohomish County has agreed to join up with vintage aircraft collector John Sessions to study his idea to build up part of Paine Field into an aviation heritage attraction.

The County Council backed the proposal 4-0 on Monday. As part of the agreement, the county will not commit that part of the airport for other uses during the next six months. That’s designed to give the county, Sessions and others the chance to study whether there’s the ability and willpower to make “Heritage Air Park” a reality.

“The goal is to perpetually create a destination for additional aviation attractions at Paine Field,” Sessions said.

Heritage Air Park would occupy about 12 acres in the little-used southeast corner of Paine Field.

Sessions’ idea is to attract more opportunities for collecting, studying, restoring and teaching about vintage aircraft. That’s beyond what exists at Paine Field today in the form of the Historic Flight Foundation Sessions founded, Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection, the Future of Flight Aviation Center &Boeing Tour and the Museum of Flight Restoration Center.

“I think it’s real complementary to the aviation cluster we have out there,” County Council President Stephanie Wright said.

The proposal doesn’t conflict with potential production sites of the next generation of Boeing’s 777 or other Boeing aircraft, Sessions said.

The county will help form an advisory committee to study whether the idea is feasible and how much support it has. “It remains the challenge: How do you organize and finance such as thing?” Sessions said.

The study team will include representatives from the other aerospace attractions at Paine Field. If the idea moves forward, the county would not have a role in running it, but would be asked to donate the land.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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