While exploring the beautiful west coast of Oregon and visiting Tillamook Cheese Factory in February of 2022, Gene also wanted to explore the Tillamook Air Museum. He is big into aviation as you made have seen in my Boeing and Museum of Flight, Tukwila, WA posts. I have tagged along for a few of them and they have each been so different. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at this museum as we only found out about it a few days before our trip and I didn’t have any time to do research. However, it was incredible to see and I am so glad I was along to tour this museum. The only thing I did know was that it was located in a former US Navy Air Station, opened in 1994, and had a lot of memorabilia, such as medals and gear, from WWII.
When you first arrive you can’t but help notice the gargantuan WWII blimp hanger (which houses the museum), and the Mini Guppy aircraft parked outside the hanger. First, a note of history before we even get into the museum. This hanger was one of two hangers that were built in Tillamook in 1943 to house K-class airships that would serve as anti-submarine patrol along the US Coast. Sadly Hangar A was destroyed in a fire in the 1990s, but Hangar B still stands and is one of the few remaining World War II blimp hangars in the United States! When I said the hanger was huge, I was not kidding. It is 1,072 feet long, 296 feet wide, and over 15 stories tall. This building is so massive that it covers seven acres – more than six football fields! The doors weigh 30 short tons each and are 120 feet tall and could accommodate six blimps each. There was so much to see and so many planes that I am working on a video with a few more pictures to share later in the future on this post.
After parking, we made our way into the impressive “building” and paid to tour the museum. It was very open and airy but filled with many different aircraft and exhibits sharing a large collection of rare historical wartime and aviation-themed artifacts. One of the first things that caught my attention was the F-14A Tomcat. This particular F-14 Tomcat was entered into service in 1972 as a replacement for the F-4 Phantom II, and was received by the Navy in 1976. It logged 6,844 landinort vidoegs, 937 ship arrests and 925 catapult launches. It has been on loan to the Tillamook Air Museum from the National Museum of Naval Aviation since December 17, 1997.
There were so many airplanes, cockpits, etc and some were quite large like the C-27 Spartan. We took a bit of time checking out as many as we could. We were even able to climb into a few that were open to visitors to explore like the Convair 880 and the Mini-Guppy.
What did surprise me were the many of the exhibits and displays related to WWII, They have an exhibit displaying the Helldiver Crash and the Anderson Air Raid Shelter (which you could step into if you wished). For those of you who didn’t know (like me), the Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver, also known as the A-25 Shrike, is a dive bomber developed by Curtiss-Wright during World War II. On March 31, 1948 pilot Bob Smedley took off from Tillamook but didn’t make it more than five minutes before crashing. The display is in honor and memory of Bob Smedley.
The Anderson Air Raid Shelter display shows one of the more than 3.6 million shelters built in England during WWII. They were only six feet tall, four and a half feet wide, and could hold four to six people. The buildings were designed to be placed up to four feet deep and then covered with more than a foot of soil. Sad and crazy.
What impressed me and saddened me were the exhibits entitled WWII Exhibit Hall, Holocaust: Stars With a Heaven, and the Hall of WWII. In some of these sections, you will find photos, first-hand documentation, and uniforms from the Second World War and beyond. They also have many ships and battles outlined by different countries. There is also a short video that covers the history of how the hangars were built, all the way to the fire of 1992 which destroyed the other hanger
This colossal museum is definitely worth the time spent even if you are not into history or WW II. As I said earlier I wasn’t sure what to expect when we decided to visit the Tillamook Air Museum, but I was truly impressed and would be more than happy to explore it again on a future visit. Have you been here? If so, please drop a line and share your experience. Here is a link to their website if you want to plan your own visit in the future. Happy travels.
Tillamook Air Museum Visitor Information
6030 Hangar Rd. Tillamook OR, 97141
General Admissions: $11.00
Seniors: $9.50 (65+)
Military (active duty, veterans, retired): $8.50 (Active or Retired)
Youth: $7.50 (7 yrs to 18 yrs)
Child: $3.50 (1 yr to 6 yrs)
Under 1 yr FREE
Museum Annual Pass: $35.00 ( Pass holder and one Guest)
Museum Family Pass: $65.00 (Two adults and four children up to 18 yo)
Parking is available for automobiles, motorcycles, buses, and aircraft. We have sufficient parking for tour buses and large RV’s. Overnight aircraft and RV parking is available at the Tillamook Airport/ RV Park (Dry camping only). For more information, contact the Port Of Tillamook Bay RV Park at (503) 842-7152 or visit http://www.potb.org/airport/rvpark.html
Pets and Animals
Service animals are the only animals permitted in the museum. We provide a large dog walk area outside the museum.
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