Leroy Grumman’s Legacy Lives on at Paine Field in Everett, Washington
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the life of Leroy Grumman than to share a collection of photos and video showing off the three incredible Grumman ‘Cats that call Paine Field in Everett, Washington home. John Sessions’ Historic Flight Foundation operates and regularly flies, among others, a Grumman F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat.
Across runway 34L/16R is Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection which operates a Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat which finished its restoration to flying condition in 2013.
All three of these aircraft are a testament to the ingenuity of Leroy Grumman and his team at “Grumman Iron Works” which produced these incredibly rugged aircraft. During peak production, 20 Hellcats rolled off the line each day at one factory, a feat which has not been matched to this day. The last Hellcat rolled out in November 1945, the total production being 12,275, of which 11,000 had been built in just two years. The Hellcat operated by FHC was originally a target drone which managed to dodge its life-ending service. In 2013 she was finally completed and had first flight early that year, and participated in several events in the Puget Sound Region. In the attached video, you will see the incredible contrast between the infamous Japanese “Zero” (A6M3-22 – Also operated by FHC) and the Hellcat during “Pacific Fighters Day.”
The F7F-3 Tigercat “Bad Kitty” as operated by Historic Flight Foundation and flown by founder John Sessions is perhaps one of the most intimidating aircraft found at Paine Field with its four 20mm cannons and four .50 caliber machine guns, tightly packed around the nose. The Tigercat was the first twin-engine carrier born fighter aircraft operated by the United States Navy and though it did not see combat during WWII, it was successful as a day/night ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft during the Koran War. First flight was November 2, 1943 and entered service in 1944. Only 364 Tigercats were produced, making it an extremely rare warbird to see flying.
Historic Flight Foundation’s other Grumman Cat is the F8F-2. “Biggest engine, least airframe” was the Grumman Aircraft Corporation’s motto for the F8F Bearcat. The Bearcat could takeoff from sea level and reach 10,000 feet in 94 seconds, a record it held for 10 years until it was beat by a fighter jet. Carriers filled with Bearcats were en route to the Pacific when Japan surrendered September 2, 1945, preventing the aircraft from seeing combat during WWII. The scrappy fighter designed specifically to take on the Japanese “Zero” still saw combat service in later conflicts such as the Korean War, and was the first official airplane, following initial use of the Hellcat between May and August of 1946, to be flown by the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Team Blue Angels featuring the classic Diamond Formation.
All three of these aircraft can be seen at Paine Field and are flown regularly from May to late September. Please visit www.HistoricFlight.org and www.FlyingHeritageCollection.com for more information.
Sources: YouTube, All Things Aero