Friday, December 25, 2009

Pearson Air Museum (Oregon vacation part 3)

After visiting Fort Vancouver, we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the Pearson Air Museum.
Pearson Air Museum

Pearson Field was an old Army Air Corps airfield.

YB "flying" in front of the HQ building

For my dad, me, and the two boys to get in cost us $15. After paying the admission, when I first stepped into the hanger, I said to myself, "Self, whoa this place is small!" My initial impression was that we had been ripped off at the ticket booth. However (comma) I ended up very pleasantly surprised. They really packed a lot of informative and interesting exhibits into that small hanger, and there were a few hands-on displays that really made it worth while for the boys.

Just inside the front doors.

The first exhibit you will find after entering the front doors is a two-panel display on the life and achievements of Army LT Alexander Pearson. I enjoyed learning about LT Pearson and the role he played as a pioneer in military aviation. His career crossed paths with some notable events and people such as Doolittle and Eisenhower.

Also just inside the front doors and the thing the boys enjoyed most was the model aircraft carrier with an airplane on a wire you had to land on the deck and catch the tailhook on the arresting cable. You pull a handle forward and back to raise and lower your end of the wire the airplane was flying on. If you let the wire go too low, the plane would run into the back of the aircraft carrier, and if you held the wire too high then the plane would overshoot the flight deck.

Lotis the Test Pilot

Kiddie Rides with actual moving control surfaces,
lights and sound effects.

The boys also spent a while on the balcony controlling this yellow model airplane.

Lotis the Flight Instructor

They also had an entire separate classroom off the side of the hanger that was full of about a dozen computers with fancy flight simulator programs. The boys spent so much time just playing with the aircraft carrier and the yellow model plane controls above, I didn't think we'd ever get out of there if they saw the room full of flight simulators.

Having read Jeff Shaara's book about the Lafayette Escadrille and seeing the movie Flyboys, I was interested to see the WWI exhibit here. The exhibit included information about spruce trees and why spruce made good aircraft frames and how it was used to build the aircraft in WWI. Plus they had a couple of nicely preserved planes like this Fokker DR-1.

Fokker DR-1

Pearson Field is also where the first trans-polar flight landed in 1937. If you ask me, those guys were nuts. Could you imagine in that day and with their navigation technology flying thousands of miles over the North Pole with a magnetic compass in a single engine plane in the harsh Arctic environment with ice on the wings??? If I had been there when they took off, then I would have wagered money they weren't gonna live to tell the tale.

Another exhibit I enjoyed was on the flying clippers (mostly run by Pan Am) and flying boats that provided trans-oceanic service to places like Hawaii.

Obligatory Blunoz Self Portrait

All four of us (Grandpa, me, and the boys) learned a lot in exploring this museum, and it was well worth the price of admission. It's very nicely put together, and the hands-on activities really captured the boys' interest.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

You sure take your kidlets on some very educational and fun day trips. And you definitely got your money's worth.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas. Happy Holidays to you and yours. :)