Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Antique Aeroplanes

Offbeat Museums

I confess that I have put the local museums on the back burner.  It makes sense really.  When it's warm and sunny outside, who wants to go to a museum?  Museums are for winter months.  Except . . . . . . . for this one.

We had no idea what we were missing.

"The Smithsonian wants one of our planes,"the docent told us.  "But they aren't going to get it."

That about sums it up.  All we could do was follow him in a state of complete and utter awe at what we were seeing here.  Offbeat museum?  Hardly.  More like a mini-Smithsonian.  Right here in little 'ole Hood River, Oregon.

  Three gigantic hangars are filled to capacity with vintage and classic airplanes and cars (with a few motorcycles, trucks and tractors thrown in,)   The locals call this place "WAAAM"--short for Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.

"We'll be adding another hangar this spring," he mentioned after we had been there for two hours already.


We have Terry Brandt to thank for this remarkable collection.  He was able to buy such beauties after making a fortune with his invention, the Shockwave Shaker, a machine for harvesting fruit and nuts. In 2006 he set up this non-profit museum and donated his entire collection to get it started.  Since then, it has grown even more.

Amazingly, most of the planes and cars on display are operable,  I'm talking about Ford Model T's, a 1937 Hudson Terraplane and a 1929 Packard.  Every Second Saturday of the month, they drive the cars, start up the engines and yes, fly the planes.

"Sign me up," my travel buddy said.  "I want to be a volunteer."

He was, of course, fascinated with the engines and the technical side of the machines.  I, on the other hand, as an amateur photographer, walked through the hangars in a state of ecstasy.  The colors!  The forms!  The angles!  The sheer beauty of these classic restorations.

The two hours flew by!

I have a strong hunch we'll be back.  Every second Saturday of every single month.  Spring, summer, winter and fall!

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