Alaska Airlines and Paine Field go way back – all the way to the ’40s

UPDATE 1/22/19: We’re postponing our scheduled start of service from Paine Field until March 4, 2019. Our latest post has all the details.

ORIGINAL POST 11/8/18: When we announced we’d be flying out of Paine Field Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington, we heard your cheers. What you may not realize is how loudly we’re cheering with you – and why.

By offering new commercial service, subject to government approval, from the North Puget Sound region in early 2019, we’re returning to our roots. Flying out of Paine Field is a homecoming for Alaska Airlines.

Retirees Dick Colin, Dick Zengel, Gene Munson and Carl Scott (Scotty) all started their Alaska Airlines careers at Paine Field. Photo courtesy of Nancy Juntwait.

In the late 1940s, we outgrew our home at Merrill Field in Anchorage as we added World War II surplus aircraft to our fleet. We needed a bigger base for charter flights, so airline President James Wooten made a deal with Boeing to house our operating headquarters at Paine Field – at the Boeing Service Center in the northwest corner of the airfield to be exact.

In 1953, we moved our corporate headquarters to downtown Seattle but kept a maintenance hangar at Paine Field. Snohomish County officials built a hangar for Alaska at the southern end of Paine Field three years later.

It wasn’t until 1963 that we moved our maintenance team to Sea-Tac airport. Since that time, the Paine Field hangars have been used by Paul Allen’s Aviation Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum.

It’s Paine, not Pain

Paine Field was named after Topliff Olin Paine, a pilot for the postal service who grew up in Everett, attended the University of Washington and worked for the U.S. Forest Service before joining the Army during World War I.

Paine is famous for piloting his aircraft into areas that others thought impossible. In 1920, he was appointed as a pilot with the then experimental Air Mail Service. He was considered one of the top flyers for the Western Division of the Air Mail Service.

How’d it get there?

Paine Field Snohomish County Airport was built in 1936. Intended to be a large commercial airport, it instead became a base for military operations during World War II and then the Korean War.

In 1966, Boeing took over the airport to build the plant for its 747 operations (the 747’s maiden flight was in 1969). Boeing still occupies the airport as well as other businesses including Aviation Technical Services, one of our maintenance vendors.

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  1. I love to fly Alaska Air, and I travel out of Fresno California. Why are you stopping twice in the Bay area and also in Los Angeles and skipping over Fresno? Come on, we’re good people here and deserve a direct flight!

  2. How is possible to be on the inaugural flight ? As a million mile flyer I would love to be on that flight !

  3. I, for one welcome this change! I am excited to fly out of Paine Field, as I use to live in lake Stevens with my elder brother. He is still local to the area and I might consider moving back. The commute from SeaTac is inconvenient and the people local to the area are excited!

  4. Congratulations Alaska and Paine Field, getting an original tenant back! As a frequent Alaska flyer and Everett resident, I am very excited to see growth of aviation in Snohomish County. With the noise regulations now in effect, and with incredible technology from aviation OEMs, the impact to overflight neighborhoods should be minimal.

  5. Welcome home, Alaska Airlines! Your fans in Everett and Snohomish County can’t wait for FAA final approval! I look forward to watching your beautiful planes fly above my house — they will remind me of the thousands of gallons of gas (and toxic emissions) saved daily by the many north Puget Sound commuters who will no longer have to slog through Seattle traffic to fly to their destinations.

  6. Service from Paine Field will be popular for people in North Seattle all the way north into Whatcom County where Bellingham is.

  7. Can you please begin service to Europe.

  8. How about flying international to canada, like calgorary canada!!!!!!

  9. Please fly from Paine Field to SLC!! THANK YOU!

  10. yeah, we live in Bellingham.

  11. When will we be able to start booking flights??

    1. Hi Cheryl. Starting today you can book flights in and out of Paine Field! All the details can be found here:

      1. When will it fly to canada????????? Like calgory alberta canada????International would be nice and with security it will be even better and more jobs!!!!

  12. Those of us who live at the edge of Paine Field are waiting for Alaska and the other airlines starting commercial flights over our homes to fulfill the promises we received of home sound proofing and other noise abatement measures. Our home has already lost value and when commercial flights commence we can expect up to a 28% reduction in the sale price of our home over what it would be without 24 commercial jet flights a day (for starters). Since we are ages 67 and 73 we anticipate having to sell our home in the foreseeable future and the major loss in our home’s value is a severe blow to our retirement financial security.
    We bought our house in 1983 and relied on the 1978 Mitigated Role Determination (MRD) in which Snohomish County promised Mukilteo and other neighbor communities that Paine Field would not become a commercial airport. Obviously, greed has trumped integrity. Thanks for ruining our beautiful community.

    1. I can’t believe someone who bought their house in 1983 is complaining about lost value. Your house is probably worth at least 5 or 10x what you paid. And one of the reasons is our growing economy, which in turn requires good air service to keep growing.

      1. It’s the same group of people that complain about noise from an airport after they move into a neighborhood. Yes, there is a lot of greed. Then again, you also have a choice to move. I’m sure that person will be the same as most and just complain and blame others for their unfortunate situation.

    2. I am sorry for the declined value of your home, I believe however, that it was not greed, but practicality that won out. SeaTac airport has reached its growth potential, and there had to be another airport in this area. Paine Field is located where a significant amount of people travel a great distance to get to SeaTac. Locating in the northern section of the city is simply the best solution for the most people. And because there is already an airport with large runways, the this has the least environmental impact. Once again, I’m truly sorry that you are in the handful that is paying for everyone else’s convenience.

    3. I’ve lived under a runway outside O’Hare for 44 years. My house was soundproofed by the city and it did help but I understood that by buying near the airport I would have noise. As passenger demand increases it means more flights. The airport and airplane manufacturers are doing what they can but there will always be noise. To expect an airport to shut down because you chose to purchase one by an airport is asinine. You gladly accepted soundproofing but you also gave up your rights to take legal action. Every flight I see means more money for the economy and my job security.

  13. What happened to Tucson to Paine ???? Carolyn in SaddleBrooke 🙂

  14. I liked that picture of the cow on the tarmac…must have been the “milk run”.

  15. Cant wait to hear of a date for the start of commercial flights out of Everett – it’s going to “great”. Propeller Airports has put together an amazing facility. Go Everett – Go Alaska!

  16. It’s now Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM), not Flying Heritage Museum. But thanks for the blog post!

    FHCAM is also opening new hangar this Saturday at 10 AM!

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve edited that part of the story.

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