Microsoft co-founder and aircraft collector Paul Allen was remembered by officials at his Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum as “an incredible man who did so many wonderful things for our community and for the world.”
Allen, who teamed up with Bill Gates to popularize personal computers, was 65 when he died Oct. 15 of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a statement posted on the website of his investment company, Vulcan, Inc.
He was best known to aviators as the man who sought out, purchased, restored, and flew dozens of rare World War II warbirds at the working military museum in Everett, Washington. Allen’s Paine Field gallery hosted scores of AOPA members and guests during the 2016 AOPA Fly-In at Bremerton, where visitors walked under a replica of SpaceShipOne, dodged the outstretched wingtips of a North American B–25J Mitchell and dozens of other warbirds, and marveled at the Ansari X Prize trophy.
AOPA Pilot columnist Barry Schiff said Allen was a "nice guy, too. When I had heard that he owned a beautifully restored Fieseler Storch, I contacted his museum at Paine Field. Next thing I knew is that he called me personally to let me know that I would be welcome to fly his Storch."
Allen’s company is in the process of developing the dual-fuselage Stratolaunch, the world’s largest aircraft and the foundation vehicle for launching other craft into space orbit from an altitude of 30,000 feet msl. He founded the space exploration company to make space launch “more reliable, affordable, and accessible than ever before,” according to the Stratolaunch website.
Allen was also an investor in the Seattle Seahawks National Football League team, the Portland Trail Blazers National Basketball Association team, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and other businesses in the Pacific Northwest.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Allen’s idea for a connected future began in 1977 when he quit a programming job, and Gates dropped out of Harvard, so the pair could work full time at Microsoft.
He left the company’s day-to-day operations in 1983 and began investing in “other people to do exciting, new, creative things,” he told the newspaper in 1995. Allen devoted himself to an “eclectic mix of philanthropic causes and myriad investments that included professional sports teams, space travel and technology,” the newspaper said.