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Oregon: Madras – Erikson Aircraft Collection

Located in the small town of Madras in Central Oregon, the Erickson Aircraft Museum holds a private collection of World War II military aircraft. The collection is very impressive and even more so when you realise that most of these aircraft are still airworthy. The hanger that houses there aircraft is bursting at the seams, so expansive is the number of aeroplanes on display. If you love vintage military aircraft then this is definitely a place you should check out.
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Oregon: Tillamook Air Museum – Airship Naval base

Tillamook Air Museum is located in a rural setting close to the Oregon Pacific coast. In World War II this was the site of a Naval base used to deploy K Class airships (blimps) across the Pacific ocean to detect enemy ships and submarines. The base was decommissioned in the 1940s and fell into disrepair. Today, the remaining hanger, Hanger B - one of the largest wooden buildings in the World, is the location of the Tillamook Air Museum.
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Oregon: Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Located near to the small Oregon town of McMinnville is the excellent Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. I discovered this place a few years back and have been fortunate to visit on a couple of occasions. It is one of those places that really exceeded my expectations – I had not expected to find such and excellent collection of aircraft and space vessels in a relatively remote place (it is a good hour or so from Portland, Oregon).
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The Entrance To The Museum Of Flight In Seattle, Washington

Washington: Seattle, Tukwila – The Museum of Flight

Seattle's Museum of Flight is one of the largest private collection of aircraft and aerospace artefacts in the World

Ever since I can remember I have loved aeroplanes, which is a little bizarre considering how much I dislike flying (although this phobia has not stopped me travelling!). Even in my career, I have spent a lot of time working with and within the aerospace industry. So, it is not surprising that I am drawn to visit every single aerospace museum that I come in close proximity to.

So, coming to Seattle, home of Boeing, I could not resist checking out the Museum of Flight.

At the time of writing an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft had plummeted to the ground killing all its passengers. This followed a similar crash involving the same aircraft only a few months before. These crashes had resulted in the grounding of all 737 Max aircraft whilst the crashes were investigated. The reason I raise this story is that the 737 aircraft are manufactured in a plant adjacent to the Museum of Flight and I could not but help notice the dozens of 737 Max’s that filled the storage areas of the factory all freshly minted and brandishing the liveries of air carriers from around the world. A spectacular sight tinged with deep sorrow at the thought of all those lost souls!

In 1964 a small group of aviation enthusiasts realized that important and historic artefacts representing the evolution of flight were being lost or destroyed at an incredible rate. To aid in the preservation of these artefacts, the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation was established with the goal of saving these artefacts. The first exhibition of these treasures took place in 1965 in a 10,000 square-foot space at the Seattle Center, close to the iconic Space Needle.

The concept for The Museum of Flight complex began to take in 1975 when the Port of Seattle leased the land on which the Boeing Red Barn now sits to the Museum for 99 years. The Red Barn, the birthplace of The Boeing Company, was saved from demolition in its original location on the Duwamish River and floated by river barge to its current location. The Red Barn was restored in 1983 and became the first permanent location for The Museum of Flight. Over time the museum has expanded to become a 15-acre campus includes over 160 air and spacecraft, the original Boeing Aircraft factory, flight simulators, and dozens of fun, interactive exhibits and family activities.

As is often the case for Seattle it was a grey, overcast day when I visited. But, unusually it was not raining and indeed there were a few patches of blue sky dotted across the ashen tableau. Of course, being situated in the North West of the United States the museum caters for inclement weather – everything in the museum is covered, even the outdoor exhibits.

Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation

T A WILSON GREAT GALLERY

I first headed to the T. A. Wilson Great Gallery is a 3 million-cubic-foot, six-story, glass-and-steel exhibit hall currently containing 39 full-size historic aircraft, including the nine-ton Douglas DC-3 hang from the space-frame ceiling in flight attitude. Even on a grey day the 3 sides of glass wall lets in a tremendous amount of light, illuminating the exhibits fantastically. The first plane I really notice is the Lockheed M-21 Blackbird, probably the sexiest plane (if you can associate sex with an aircraft) ever made. This exhibit area covers a real mix of aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopters, through the ages. As well as the aircraft on display there are numerous exhibits of artefacts and information panels.

Huey Helicopter
Sikorsky HH-52 Seaguard
T.A. Wilson Great Gallery
Classic aircraft
Lockheed M-21 Blackbird
Boeing Model 80A-1 (1929)
Boeing Model 80A-1 (1929) - City of Auburn

ELROY MCCAW PERSONAL COURAGE WING

My second port of call was the Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing, a two-story gallery that highlights the stories of courage, dedication, heroism and the triumph of the human spirit of those involved in fighter aviation in World War I and World War II. This 88,000-square-foot space opened on June 6, 2004 (the 60th anniversary of D-Day) and showcases 28 restored WWI and WWII fighter planes across two galleries. Unlike the glass-walled Great Gallery, there we no windows which created a totally different atmosphere. The lighting in these galleries was dim and moody; primarily to protect the delicate artefacts, but it also created a sombre atmosphere. When I was much younger I had a love for WWI and WWII aircraft and I always have had a great fondness for this period in history and this trip resurrected memories from my distant past.

It was a very powerful experience combining stunning exhibits, imagery and sounds.

Sopwith Camel F1 Reproduction
Spitfire in the World-War II section at the Museum of Flight
Corsair
Mustang

BOEING RED BARN

Adjacent to the Personal Courage Wing is Boeing’s Red Barn, the spiritual centre of the Boeing Aircraft Company. The structure dating from 1916 was the former Plant 1 main office. Today, this building, flooded by natural light, houses numerous exhibits documenting the early days of the American aerospace industry. It is one of those places you could spend hours perusing and continuously turn up endless hidden gems.

Display in the Red Barn

CHARLES SIMONYI SPACE GALLERY

From the early stories of the aerospace industry, I vaulted forward to man’s journey into space. The Charles Simonyi Space Gallery is dedicated to man’s exploration beyond the shelter of our home planet earth. The central exhibit is the only full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer.

A space shuttle

AVIATION GALLERY

Just beyond the Space Gallery is the vast Aviation Gallery. This open, three-acre space is home to 19 rare and unique commercial and military aircraft. Among the commercial aircraft on display are the only supersonic Concorde on the West Coast, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the first Boeing 727, 737 and 747 jets, the first jet Air Force One, the extremely rare Boeing 247D and Douglas DC-2 airliners from the 1930s. The military aircraft include World War II B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress, and the Cold War’s B-47 Stratojet; plus jet fighters spanning the wars from Korea to the Persian Gulf.

The B-17 'Flying Fortress'
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Boeing VC-137B the first 'Air Force One'
The Harrier AV8-B
Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet
Concord
In Summary …

If like me, you are a lover of all things aerospace then the Museum of Flight should be high on your bucket list of aerospace museums to visit.

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South Dakota Air & Space Museum On Ellsworth Airforce Base

South Dakota: Rapid City – South Dakota Air and Space Museum

I still get excited when I get the chance to visit a new museum dedicated to air and space, so when I discovered on our journey through South Dakota the South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Airforce Base I jumped at the chance to visit.Like many such aerospace museums there was plenty of interesting aircraft on display. There are over 30 vintage military aircraft ranging from World War II bombers to the modern-day B-1.
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Florida: Central Florida – Kennedy Space Center

I am a bit too young to clearly remember the first moon landing but I do have memories of the excitement of watching the space shuttle launches and wishing I have been their in person. So, when we got the chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center I jumped at the opportunity. Sadly, there were no launches planned but it still was exciting to be visiting the site of these amazing demonstrations of man's imagination and desire to explore.
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