It never fails to amaze me how many aviation museums I can stumble across. My latest one is the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon.
To be honest, I didn’t even plan to stop. I’ve seen more aviation museums than I can remember. And the Tillamook Air Museum doesn’t exactly have a huge collection. My plans to skip it ended when I saw the words “AIR MUSEUM” in about 50,000-point font painted on the side a blimp hangar … which also happens to be the world’s largest wooden structure. The overall mojo of the building alone makes it one of the more interesting aviation museums I’ve ever seen.
Even if the Tillamook Air Museum was completely empty, I’d still stop just to see the inside of the building. It’s that impressive, imposing and unusual – especially out in coastal Oregon. The hangar is the last one left on the site after the second hangar burned down in the 1990s. Less than half the surviving hangar houses the museum, while the rest is RV and boat storage (brilliant re-use of a huge building, really).
But I found a few cool surprises that elevated the experience to one of the better aviation museums: My favorites were the Mini-Guppy, MiG-17, A-7 and F-14 Tomcat. There are also some rather neat gyrocopters and homebrewed private planes in the collection.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention any WWII warbirds, despite Tillamook Air Museum claiming to be one of the best WWII aviation museums. Some of the static displays and memorabilia are great WWII items, but most of it is post-1940s era.
I was just as fascinated by the area around the hangar as I was by the aircraft collection. The area was known as Naval Air Station Tillamook. It also had airfields and railways; some of the rail lines still house derelict steam and diesel locomotives, which I thought was extra-cool.
My advice: Stop if you are anywhere nearby. It’s $9 for an adult admission to one of the more unusual aviation museums you’ll ever see.
A funny-looking chopper at the Tillamook Air Museum.