At Home & Living
7 Fun Summer Activities for Airplane Loving Kids
If your little one’s dreams take his eyes skyward, there’s no better place to be than Seattle in the summertime. From airshows to aviation museums to aircraft assembly, Seattle has got it all.
Airplanes were one of my son’s first obsessions and airplane appreciation means summertime as much as watermelon in our family. Some of our favorite family moments and photos have us hand-in-hand and eyes on the sky. Here are some of the great ways to enjoy airplanes in our fair city.
The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight in south Seattle is one of the premiere aviation museums in the nation. The museum is divided into halls and many are geared for young explorers with eager hands. The Kids Flight Zone is full of opportunities for kids to try their hands at various aspects of flying. Whether it’s guiding a hang glider to a landing spot, sitting in the cockpit of various models, or learning to control the pitch and yaw of an aircraft, they are sure to have fun. Another great aspect of the museum is it’s sheer size. With so many different galleries and exhibits on various levels, kids love the freedom to explore.
Older kids will also appreciate the chronology of flight as the exhibits take you from the earliest aircraft through the airplanes of WWI and WWII to commercial aircraft to the last frontier of space and the crafts used to take us there. The hands-on exhibits, such as the ones that allow you to dock the space shuttle with the international space station and the flight simulators, are a hit with both older kids and adult airplane lovers.
Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way, Seattle
The Flying Heritage Collection
If you’re looking for airplanes in flight, the summer is chock full of opportunities for you, and the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett is a great place to start. This organization is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic aircraft. Each summer various planes from the collection are flown to keep them operational and exercised on a regular basis. Aviation enthusiasts big and little can marvel at the beauty and mechanical precision of these vintage aircrafts as they return to the skies.
The Fly Day shows run from noon to 1 p.m. every three to four weeks and follow a themed plan. The Aug. 17 show is Luftwaffe Day and features Bf 109s, FW 190s and Storch planes. The Battle of Britain Day on Sept. 7 will showcase the Spitfires and Bf 109s. The final summer show is on Sept. 21 and is titled “Air War Over Russia Day,” featuring IL-2s and FW190s.
In addition to the Fly Days, you should also check out the indoor museum. On the tour you can see the other planes not included in the airshow that day as well as meet the pilots who fly the historic aircrafts. The Flying Heritage Collection is located in the southeast corner of Paine Field in Everett. And if you are already at Paine Field, be sure to make your way over to see the KILO-7 Aircraft Collection.
Flying Heritage Collection
3407 109th St. S.W., Everett
Historic Flight at KILO-7
The museum’s flight hangars, located at Paine Field, allow visitors to watch the engineers at work restoring historic aircraft to flying condition. Members of the museum are offered the opportunity to fly in various aircraft. Visit the Historic Flight website for the flying schedule and to find out about the fabulous airshows over the summer, a great full day outing.
Historic Flight at KILO-7
10719 Bernie Webber Drive, Mukilteo
The Olympic Flight Museum & Air Show
The other great summer airshow is at the Olympic Flight Museum and is scheduled for Aug. 10 and 11. The weekend is brimming with exciting events for the whole family. Some aircraft are open on the ground for touring while others show off their stuff in the sky. One of our favorite events is to watch an old junker car be dropped from a helicopter high above. After years of dealing with this event in June (and June weather), it will be great to have it in the heart of summer, when all the planes can perform their high altitude shows.
Olympic Flight Museum & Air Show
7637 Old Hwy. 99 S.E., Tumwater
Future of Flight
If your little aviator loves commercial aircraft, the Future of Flight in Mukilteo is the place to go. Not only can you explore a gallery of aircraft and sit in the cockpit of a 727, but you can actually tour the Boeing Plant and watch the aircrafts being made. The tour requires some walking, stairs and children must be at least four feet tall, but it is unlike any other tour in the area. In fact, it is the only place to see commercial jet assembly in all of North America. Once back at the Aviation Center, kids can design their own aircraft and have them printed out for free or pay to have their design put on a poster or t-shirt. Read my full parent review here.
Future of Flight
8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo
Seaplanes on Lake Union and Lake Washington
For a quick, easy and free airplane adventure, consider packing a picnic and heading out to watch the seaplanes take off and land. There are two great locations for watching seaplanes: For airplanes taking off from Lake Union, try Gas Works Park. With lots of open space and unobstructed views of the lake, you are sure to see a few in action. The second place for seaplanes is Log Boom Park in Kenmore. With Kenmore Air just next door, it’s a great place to hang out and watch some seaplanes taking off and landing on the north end of Lake Washington.
One of the best parts about the airshows, plane watching and aviation museums is their appeal to young and old, making them a great way to spend some family time together. They are also a great way to entertain visitors. Mark your calendars and let these events take you up, up and away to the heights of aviation entertainment.
Photos courtesy The Museum of Flight, the Flying Heritage Collection, the Historic Flight Foundation, Kelly Rogers Flynt, and the Future of Flight.