John T. Sessions stands in front of the new Mig-29 he acquired for the aircraft collection at the Historic Flight Foundation. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)

John T. Sessions stands in front of the new Mig-29 he acquired for the aircraft collection at the Historic Flight Foundation. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)

U.S. flight museum founder ID’ed as pilot in Abbotsford International Airshow crash

Pilot John Sessions was giving rides in a vintage 1930s airliner at the airport in Abbotsford.

  • Aug. 12, 2018 6:35 p.m.

Ben Watanabe / Everett Herald

A Washington State aviation museum founder was hurt in a vintage airplane crash this weekend during the Abbotsford International Airshow.

John Sessions, who created the Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field, was the pilot of the crashed de Havilland Dragon Rapide, the foundation’s Marty Vale said.

The 1930s-era biplane with four passengers and Sessions, of Mukilteo, Wash., crashed shortly after takeoff at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Abbotsford Airport, about 42 miles east of Vancouver.

The plane that crashed at the Abbotsford Airshow Saturday. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Details about what led to the crash were not clear. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the crash. “John is a competent pilot,” Vale said.

All five people were taken to a hospital, according to a news release from the airshow. Three had non-life-threatening injuries, one had serious injuries and another was in critical condition. Sessions was one of the people airlifted to a hospital in Vancouver, Vale said.

The Historic Flight Foundation has been a fixture at the Abbotsford Airshow, displaying aircraft for 11 years in a row. On its website, the foundation touted flying its Grumman F8F, Grumman TBM and Rapide at Abbotsford this year. Rides in the TBM and Rapide were available for reservation through the air show.

The non-profit museum at Paine Field, on the west side of the airport just off the Mukilteo Speedway, was opened by Sessions in 2010.

The deHavilland Dragon Rapide was a rare, recently-restored aircraft. At the time of its acquisition by the foundation and Sessions, the avid airplane collector told The Daily Herald that the plane’s durability and reliability meant airlines could stick to regularly scheduled flights, launching a new era of air travel.

The Abbotsford News contributed to this story.


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