Beer flights to fund aviation education

By Sara Bruestle | May 09, 2012
Courtesy of: Historic Flight Foundation The Historic Flight Foundation's B-25 bomber "Grumpy" arrives at Grimes Field in Ohio for the 70th Doolittle Raiders reunion, which featured the largest assembly of B-25s since World War II. The aircraft will be celebrated again at the foundation's Beer Flights funderaiser on May 18.

Here’s a term you don’t have to be an aviator to understand: A comparison of several different craft beers is called a “beer flight.”

The Historic Flight Foundation is hosting the first ever Beer Flights fundraiser from 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the foundation’s hangar, 10719 Bernie Webber Dr. in Mukilteo.

All proceeds will go to the HFF Education Fund, an outreach program that provides learning opportunities for students interested in aviation, restoration and the history of flight.

“That’s our mission,” founder John Sessions said. “We are a non-profit, so even though we have a lot of fun sometimes with the flying, it’s all about history and technical learning and trying to get, particularly, young people excited about science and math and earlier periods of aviation history.”

The Fundraiser

Sponsored by Seattle’s Pike Brewing Company, the fundraiser features samplings or “flights” of craft beers, fine wines and a variety of cuisines from elite restaurants and specialty food vendors.

It also features tours and demonstrations of vintage aircraft from 1927-1957, silent and live auctions for aviation experiences and paraphernalia, 1940s music by period band Sugar Daddies, and historical re-enactors from the golden age of aviation.

The fundraiser coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid of World War II, marking the first U.S. air raid against Japan.

A VIP reception for Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, granddaughter of Jimmy Doolittle, who led the raid in 1942, will be at 6 p.m., followed by a book signing of her book “Calculated Risk,” about her grandfather’s exploits.

At 7 p.m., a special ale will be delivered by the foundation’s own B-25 bomber – the same model that was flown off the carrier deck of the USS Hornet in the Doolittle Raid.

The Education Fund

HFF Education Fund programs include school presentations by historical re-enactors playing famous aviators, such as Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, and training programs for mechanics and pilots of vintage aircraft.

“We’re trying to keep some dying skills alive,” Sessions said.

Students who benefit from the fund include 14-year-old Luke Heckerman, who has been an HFF volunteer since he was in sixth grade. He started by pulling weeds around the hangar, and now assists the mechanic with oil changes and refueling, goes to air shows and gets flight time with some of the aircraft, like the T-6.

The eighth grader at Harbour Pointe Middle School wants to be a naval aviator when he grows up. His aircraft of choice? An F-18.

“I’ve learned so much, and just being able to work on the planes and be up close and be able to turn a wrench on the aircraft, and to be able to be on the crew at 14 years old – that’s pretty incredible to me,” Luke said.

Tickets are $75 each or $150 for VIP and available at

For more information, call 425-348-3200 or email

Tickets may be redeemed for admission to the 17th annual Aviation Day at Paine Field from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19.

Museums, displays, music and food highlight this festival to celebrate aviation and the start of the flying season. Aircraft demonstrations will be at noon and 4:30 p.m. The Washington Pilots Association will offer free, first-time "Young Eagle" flights throughout the day.

The Raider Reunion

The HFF B-25 bomber recently flew to the 70th reunion of the Doolittle Raiders. Sessions piloted the aircraft, “Grumpy,” round trip with two other pilots. Luke also attended the reunion.

The Doolittle Raid was a turning point for the U.S. home front, giving a sense of hope and renewed confidence after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Sixteen B-25’s took off from the carrier about 700 miles from Japan, knowing that when they took off they would not be able to land back on the Hornet nor would they be able to necessarily make it to a safe destination,” Sessions said.

The Dayton, Ohio, reunion was the last reunion for the five remaining raiders whose average age is in the 90s. About 60 of the 80 raiders survived the mission.

“Jimmy Doolittle was awarded the national Congressional Medal of Honor, and the raiders themselves have been heroes ever since,” Sessions said.

The reunion brought together 20 flying B-25s from all across the United States and Canada, the largest assembly of B-25s since WWII.

“April 18 was the actual anniversary of the Doolittle Raid,” Luke said. “The whole week, B-25s were flying. It was incredible. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”

On its return to Paine Field, the bomber was met by the Paine Field fire department with a rainbow salute, an arching spray from two fire trucks.

For more on the foundation’s B-25 and the raiders reunion, go to and

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.