A Fantastic, Fun, and Free Adventure · 14 November 2009

My second son, Thing 2, wanted to do something fun and free after his soccer game a few weekends ago. We got more than our money’s worth when we stumbled onto an aircraft museum.

We stumbled onto the not yet opened museum when I asked my son which way he wanted to turn at the light when we were leaving the soccer game in Mukilteo. I told him, “Both directions are about the same distance. To the right has more lights.” Naturally, he chose right.

His reasoning was simple. He wanted to do something fun and free like stopping at a park to climb a tree. He figured that the more lights there were, the more chances there would be to spot a park. Or at least big trees that he might be able to climb. We had to stop at the first light. There were no parks but to the left was an airfield, Paine Field. While the left turn would not put us onto the airfield, it would put us near the end of one of the runways. I asked Thing 2 if he wanted to see if we could watch a plane take off. He replied, “Sure.”

I got out of my lane since the light was still red and got into the turn lane. When the light turned green, we were off on our fun and free adventure.

We stopped at the end of the runway and sat for a bit. No planes took off while we sat there even though one had taken off while we were waiting at the light. So off we went to the end of the road and a couple buildings which turned out to be hangars.

The first building said that the museum was in the second building. We thought that maybe we had found a gold mine. But the second hangar looked deserted except for the two vehicles outside. There were no signs indicating that a museum was inside or that it might be open to the public. We slowly drove the length of the building passing both doors just to check things out. I decided that since there were only a couple vehicles in the parking lot to just back up and park. While I was doing so, a couple people poked their heads out of the far door. So Thing 2 and I had a little hope for an adventure.

We got out of the truck and checked the closer door. It was locked. We walked to the second door where the heads had popped out before. We opened the door to find two people, a man and a lady. The lady was very gracious and told us that the place was a museum. But it was not open to the public yet. She told us that we could look around. The man, John, asked if we wanted to help clean the bathrooms. Thing 2 looked a bit shocked until he realized the man was teasing him. John said that we could look at the five planes and even took a bit of time to answer some of our simple questions about the P-51 Mustang and a World War II Navy plane. Then he told us they were getting ready for a party and he put us to work.

Thing 2 thought he was just getting a ride on the “tug” which was a heavy piece of diesel machinery used to move the planes around. But I hooked up the Mustang to the tug and John (with Thing 2 in the other seat) hauled it and other planes around. John maneuvered the P-51 Mustang to a different place in the hangar because he and others were getting ready for a surprise party for one of their organization’s members. Thing 2 and I also helped move a float plane and a biplane. My son even got to sit in the float plane while John, another member of their organization, and I did some tricky maneuvering to get the plane situated. It was great fun doing more than just looking at and reading placards about vintage airplanes.

When it was over and all the planes were situated for the party, we relaxed a bit and just admired the aircraft. Our new friend John said that people usually paid (membership dues I presume) to push around and work on their airplanes. But we got to work for free! John then gave Thing 2 a souvenir with some plane stamps and a bagel.

We had a great time pushing around planes and hanging out at the unnamed, unopened museum. We did not even need the souvenir or bagel as reward. After all, the greatest reward of the whole deal was that Thing 2 and I got to have a fantastic, fun, and free adventure on the way home from a soccer game.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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