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Fri, Aug 12, 2022

Paul Allen’s Warbird Squadron Sold

Aircraft to Remain on Public Display

Paul Allen was many things: an entrepreneur; a tech mogul; the owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers; a philanthropist (he was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy); and a damn good software engineer. He was also an aviation enthusiast—the sort who applied his considerable means to the acquisition of not only contemporary business jets, but iconic, historical aircraft, the preservation of which behooves the whole of mankind.

Allen curated a literal museum of warbirds and machines significant to the advancement of humanity’s aeronautical exploits—machines such as: a de Havilland Mosquito, an Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik, a Junkers JU-87 Stuka, a Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Reisen (Zero), an F-9F-2 Panther, an F-86 Thunderjet, a trio of F-8 Crusaders, and a magnificent, Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress. These and more storied aircraft were restored, maintained, and displayed at Allen’s Flying Heritage Combat & Armor Museum on Everett, Washington’s Paine Field (PAE).

In addition to warbirds, Allen’s collection contained odd but fascinating outliers the likes of Roc, the immense, world-record-breaking, satellite-launcher aircraft; and a MiG-29 Fulcrum in which Paul reportedly enjoyed ripping around the Puget Sound’s not so sunny skies.

Allen’s 2018 death called into question the future of his collection. The care and maintenance of such a multitude of rare and fiddly birds is an herculean undertaking requiring inordinate reserves of dollars, devotion, and determination.  

Enter entrepreneur and philanthropist Steuart Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and driving force behind the Wartime History Museum, a nonprofit about the noble work of restoring and preserving wartime historical artifacts. Mr. Walton, after hinting in April 2022 that he’d interest in acquiring Allen’s aviation and military artifacts from the deceased’s estate, has done precisely so.

Walton plans to reopen Allen’s Flying Heritage Combat & Armor Museum—closed in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 debacle—at its current Everett location. No changes in branding have been announced, and information pertaining to Walton’s long-term ideas for the facility has yet been disclosed.

Walton is the co-founder of Runway Group, a holding company with investments in northwest Arkansas, and the co-founder and chairman of Game Composites, a company that designs and builds small composite aircraft. He serves on the board of directors for Walmart and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, among other organizations, and is a licensed pilot as well as an aircraft collector. Walton’s net worth is estimated at $300-million. Whether or not that figure takes into account the acquisition of Allen’s veritable air force remains unknown.

FMI: www.pgafamilyfoundation.org

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