Northwest Promoting Aviation History For Tourism

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"We're beginning to see a great number of visitors who come to the Pacific Northwest just to go on a kind of 'aviation spree' at the museums along the I-5 corridor," Teri Thorning, director of Olympia's Olympic Flight Museum, told the Associated Press recently. About a half-dozen aviation-themed museums are expected to attract more than 800,000 visitors this year and more than a million in 2005. The list of attractions is growing, with new display halls, more aircraft collections and new buildings in the works. The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field gained cachet when it scored a Concorde for its collection, and opened a new $53 million wing this summer. Other attractions include: Evergreen Aviation Museum, home of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose; Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's private Flying Heritage Collection, which opened for limited viewing this summer; Port Townsend Aero Museum, on the Olympic peninsula; Tillamook Air Museum on the Oregon coast; the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Wash.; McChord Air Museum near Tacoma; and the Olympic Flight Museum, which holds an annual fly-in.