Whidbey base celebrates 100 years of naval aviation Saturday

Vintage, World War II era Navy planes will be some featured aircraft at the Centennial of Naval Aviation Heritage Fly In scheduled this weekend at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. - Courtesy photo
Vintage, World War II era Navy planes will be some featured aircraft at the Centennial of Naval Aviation Heritage Fly In scheduled this weekend at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The public is invited to the Centennial of Naval Aviation Heritage Fly In Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

For aviation buffs, the ramp on Ault Field will be filled with rows of aircraft, from vintage war birds to modern combat jets, patrol planes and helicopters. The air station’s current inventory, including the EA-6B Prowler, EA-18G Growler, P-3C Orion and MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter, will be on the tarmac, some in heritage paint schemes.

Search and Rescue will perform two demonstrations in the Knighthawk: An  overland rescue on Ault Field at 11 a.m. and an overwater rescue at Seaplane Base at noon.

The Whidbey Island Remote Control Society will entertain the crowd with two RC aircraft demonstrations on Ault Field from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 2:30 p.m.

“Unfortunately, the PBY Catalina, scheduled to splash down in Crescent Harbor Saturday afternoon will not be available after all,” said Kim Martin, public information officer, in a release. “The good news is that there will still be plenty to see.”

In addition to other seaplanes and the SAR demo, the Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 9 will be on hand with a static display along with several car groups showcasing their vehicles. The Command Display in Simard Hall will be open all day. The PBY Memorial Association has put together some great displays and members are always on hand to answer questions and share stories. They also have a PBY Catalina “parked” right next to the building.

The Tales of Naval Aviation (ToNA) are sure to be the highlight of the day. Located in Hangar 1, some speakers will relate personal aviation  experiences, some have written books about naval aviation and some will talk about today’s Navy. Each speaker will have time for questions and autographs following their session. Here’s the schedule:

• 10:30 a.m.: Ralph Wetterhahn, USAF (Ret.)

• 1:15  a.m.: Cmdr. Harry Ferrier, USN (Ret.)

• Noon: Capt. John Schork, USN (Ret.)

• 12:45 p.m.: Capt. Walter Spangenberg, Jr., USN (Ret.)

• 1:30  p.m.: Stephen Coonts

• 2:15  p.m.: Rear Adm. Lyle Bull, USN (Ret.)

• 3 p.m. Cory Graff

• 3:45  p.m.: Vice Admiral James Zortman, USN (Ret.)

The Celebration of Naval Aviation has something for everyone. Squadrons will be selling memorabilia (patches, hats, mugs, coins, etc.), corporate sponsors will have information booths and vendors will be selling a variety of food and beverages. Please note that there is no ATM on the flight line. Please plan accordingly.

The Kids Zone in Haviland Hangar is bound to be popular with families. From bouncy toys to balloon-tying clowns to the Flying Gizmos show at 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and the Predators of the Heart show at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., no one should go home bored from this event.

Quilts from the Thread Tails and Vapor Trails’ Navy Quilt Challenge will be on display in Hangar 1 along with local quilt guild projects. And the Centennial booth will feature video histories of some local military residents.

More information can be found at, and

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