Saturday, May 28, 2016

Erickson Air Museum

Today we went out to Madras to visit the Erickson Air Museum.  It's not the largest collection we've visited, but it's particularly cool in that all the planes with the exception of two are airworthy.

The Grumman J2F Duck was first delivered to the USN fleet in 1934 to perform utility duties aboard aircraft carriers and to provide a ship-shore link. It served the military for over seventeen years and was also employed by the Coast Guard in its search and rescue role.  This is one of the last flyable Ducks in the world.

It's leaking.  Almost all of the planes are leaking.  Jim says if a piston engine airplane is not leaking then it's out of oil.

A B17G which was a Pathfinder during WWII.  Using ground mapping radar, they led the bomber formations to their assigned targets.  This is the only remaining Pathfinder B17.

This is the bomb bay of the B17.  Their bomb bays were not very large.  The Americans believed in day time precision bombing, and carried more crew and more defensive weapons.  There were machine guns pointing everywhere.  The British Lancaster, on the other hand, bombed at night, bombed large areas and carried more bombs.  They had a smaller crew and fewer defensive weapons.  

This is the dreaded ventral ball turret.  There was no room for a parachute.  He had to be cranked up and in to a position that would allow him to exit the turret.  The plane could land with the turret down, but if the landing gear collapsed, it was over for him.

This is how he spent his day.

The Bellanca Aircruiser, built in 1938.  It originally was slated to carry passengers, but regulations were put in place that required multiple engines.  Many pilots considered it to be the most efficient single engine plane ever built.  It could carry its own weight in cargo, 2,000 pounds.  This plane was in service until 1968, when it ran aground on take off with a full cargo of fish.  In 1972 it was rescued and restored to flying condition.  It was affectionately known as the Flying W.

A P-51 in the markings of the airplanes flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.  They were a segregated unit of African American pilots commanded by Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.  Captain Davis was a 1936 West Point graduate where he endured four years of shunning by his white class mates.  Their job was to protect the bombers, not shoot down enemy planes.  They did not lose a single bomber. 

Behind the museum there are more planes.  This is a Lockheed P2V Neptune. It was a maritime patrol and submarine hunter in its day.  It was flown by the US Navy.  Note the two outboard jet engines which were used to assist on take off.  The plane was later replaced by the P3 Orion.

Jack Erickson also owns a flying service.  He provides sky cranes, helicopters for logging and planes for fire fighting.  This line of planes are MD-80s with their engines off.  Eventually these will all be converted to air tankers to fight forest fires.  In recent years it has become evident that we don't have enough of these planes.

I only covered three of the indoor planes, there are many more to see.  It's not just the planes, it's the history and the period of time they represent.  If you're in the Redmond/Sisters area, this is definitely worth a visit. 

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