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Out With Kids: Flight Museum offering regular weekend hours

Heritage Flight Museum in Skagit County now has regular weekend hours for its collection of vintage aircraft and displays of aviation history.

The museum had been offering hours only by appointment and during special events since 2013, when it moved to Skagit Regional Airport from Bellingham International Airport.

The Heritage Flight Museum was founded by veteran NASA astronaut Bill Anders. It features more than a dozen aircraft from the late 1930s, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam war eras. All are in flying condition.

Highlights of the collection include a P-51 Mustang, the iconic American fighter aircraft of World War II; an A1-Skyraider, a rugged dive bomber and close-air support aircraft that saw action in Southeast Asia; and the SNJ-4, which was used to train the Navy pilots of America’s Pacific Fleet in World War II. There’s an H-13 Sioux helicopter that will be recognizable to fans of “MASH” as a Korean War medevac copter, and a World War II-era GPW vehicle, commonly known as a jeep.

Visitors can see them taking off and landing during “fly days,” the third Saturday of the month when the weather is fair. The museum’s next Fly Day is noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 21.

“We usually fly at least two or three sorties during the day,” said Bruce Dietsch, the museum’s business manager. “People will get a real close-up view of the aircraft,” because the museum is situated right by the runway.

He said visitors will marvel at the smell and sound of the vintage aircraft.

“It’s those big radial piston engines,” he said, “kind of taking you back in history.”

Dietsch said fly days also depend on pilot and aircraft availability. Sometimes the planes are away at an air show, but generally the P-51 Mustang, A-1 Skyraider and AT-6 Texan trainer participate in the flights.

Only 30 visitors are allowed in the hangars at a time, because the museum lacks a facilitywide fire-suppression system. Officials don’t see a problem with the restrictions for visitors.

New regular hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, with visits by appointment available 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for military veterans and children ages 5-17, and free for children under 5.

Skagit Regional Airport is west of Burlington. From Bellingham, take Interstate 5 to Exit 230, then turn west onto Highway 20 toward Anacortes. Turn right onto Higgins Airport Way, then left onto Crosswind Drive. Heritage Flight Museum is on the right.

For more information, call 360-424-5151or go to heritageflight.org. Find the museums on Facebook at Heritage Flight Museum and follow it on Twitter @HeritageFltMus.

The museum founder was corrected Feb. 19, 2015.

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