Tillamook Air Museum

June 16, 2015  •  3 Comments

I am almost embarrassed to admit how many times I've been to the coast and driven by this huge airship building on the south side of Tillamook and not stopped to see it.   Just drove on by.    So on rainy day 2, hoping that things would clear off enough to at least get in a short hike to Munson Falls I stopped - finally.

Driving in I was quite surprised to see how many of the old Naval buildings were still standing and some old railroad equipment.   Not knowing a darned thing about the building, when or what it was used for (okay I knew they kept blimps in there but that was it) I was glad I stopped and learned the history and actually got inside!

You really don't get a sense for the size of this building until you actually drive up to it.   Now even though it doesn't look it from the outside, this entire airship hanger is a wooden structure underneath, one of the largest free-standing wooden structures in the world built using an "arched truss" technique.     It is also one of 17 (there were 2 actually at this site but hanger A burned down in 1992) wooden airship hangers in the US during WWII.  Why wood?  Well remember steel was going to the war effort.   This site outside of Tillamook was picked in 1941 and made "official" (as only politicians can do) in June, 1942.  Realize, they put the entire complex on marshland and you can imagine with Oregon's rain (they indeed had a record rainy season the year they started building as well as snow) what that did to hamper construction efforts.   Going inside this hanger and looking at all of the photos taken during construction is just awe inspiring!   I encourage you to read more HERE about this incredible endeavor and the airships it housed and the aircraft that are currently at the museum as most of my photos aren't great just because of how dark it was inside.    A few facts about the hangers to give you some scale - There are 51 arches and the height at the top of each frame is 170 feet 4 inches (51.9 meters).   The length of the hanger is 1040 feet (317 meters).   

As I walked through one of the photo exhibits (I'm not really one of those people that stops and reads every plaque - rather I look at the pictures and read about ones that look interesting - I know says a lot about me) I was stopped in my tracks by the sign below.    

This is the large airplane (called the Aero-Spacelines Mini Guppy - nothing mini about it) you see outside the hanger.  It was pouring rain so I didn't walk out to go inside of it although I'm kind of wishing I had.

The door columns from the other hanger.  These doors were 120 feet high and opened to 220 feet.   Each door (there were 4 on each end) weighed 180 TONS!   

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair ll that was flown in the Gulf War and each camel represents one of the 39 missions flown there.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MIg-17/Lim 6 which was built in Poland in 1961.   The story is that this plane did see some combat history but it is not known where as the log books had 3 years removed by Polish authorities.

This was a standing exhibit of a WWII Radio Room which I found rather cool!

One of many of the posters that were displayed.   I just was drawn to this one about the women of the war.

The best photo I could get of the upper structure inside - those are steps that go up the arches.   Again you can go to the link above and learn more about the structure.

1967 Parker 2nd Ranger Glider

Below are shots of the target drone they had on display.   I chuckled at all the "drone talk" we have today and everyone that flies them.  This was one of the originals!

Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter - can you imagine being the one to fly this thing???   Astounding!

I couldn't get photos of the helicopter described below but if you read the information you can visualize it.   Again, the minds of engineers really do amaze me and to think it was developed in the 1950s.

Inside the cockpit of the Kaman.

Another thing about aircraft of any sort that amazes me is the amount of instrumentation a pilot has to know and understand.   They had a number of cockpits you could sit in here at the museum and you certainly also realize why there are no "overweight" pilots flying military aircraft.   

A description of many of the airships - and if you've ever seen the GoodYear blimp on TV or at an event - look where it falls in the big scheme of things!

The helium room - well duh.  I guess I never thought of how they filled those gigantic airships.

This is just a little short read on the air station and the K ships that were there at one time.

As I left I took a road right by the museum that ended at a local cemetery.  No not an old pioneer type but still, as I turned around to leave, I caught this shot and am so very pleased with it.   You know there are beliefs about ravens and the dead, but truly I just couldn't resist the shot.

Tillamook Sacred Heart CemeteryTillamook Sacred Heart Cemetery

Although there are no longer airships stored in the hangers it was very interesting to learn about their important role in WWII.   I didn't realize how long they could fly at one time or what they did (mostly spot submarines and escort ships).   It was really interesting as I watched a PBS Nova show on D Day - and in many of those pictures you could see all of the airships escorting the fleets into the beaches.


jeanne stone(non-registered)
Great shots! We also visited this same museum last year on our trip. Also saw the Evergreen museum. My husband is addicted to all things airplane.
Brian King Images
That's some history! Great old pieces! Love the old train engine, too. The raven photo is awesome!
Far Side(non-registered)
We have never had the time to stop either...maybe someday:) I enjoyed this post!
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