Thursday, May 26, 2011

Evergreen Aviation Museum Visit, McMinville, OR - May 26, 2011

Evergreen Aviation Museum

Photos from our visit

Evergreen Aviation Museum is the theme park of aviation museums, literally, with a new water park opening in June. I really wanted to ride the slide out of the 747 emergency exit! Maybe next time.

The museum is really the spirit of the founder of Evergreen International Airlines, Delford M. Smith and his son, Captain Michael King Smith. It grew out of their personal collection of warbirds. With the tragic death of Captain Smith in an automobile accident in 1995 the museum has become a sort of memorial in his memory.

The attention to detail at this museum is amazing and the whole place is shiny as new. You can see in many of my photographs that the planes reflect in the glossy floor. The light is much better here then at the Dayton Air Force Museum so the planes photograph well. There are also many volunteers giving tours or available to answer questions. Shelby and I paid our $4 each to go in the B-17G and one gentleman took us inside the plane and showed us around and then another gave us a tour of the outside pointing out details. We probably spent half an hour poking around this plane. I've been in B-17s before at air shows for more money and with less time to spend inside due to the crowds. This time it felt like we had a personal tour and were free to spend as much time in the plane as we wanted to.

The center of the main hangar is taken up by the H-4 Hercules, or Spruce Goose, and there are probably 100 or so other aircraft place around or hanging above this plane. It is huge of course - the span of the elevator is longer then the wingspan of the B-17. It is really great to walk around and inside this behemoth and the concept of making something this size out of mostly birch plywood is almost unimaginable.

Overall it is a fantastic selection of aircraft that look like they are factory new. In addition to the aircraft museum there is a new and growing space and rocket collection in its own new building and an iMax theater as well. Surrounding the museum is a vineyard with the some of the resulting wines bottled under the Spruce Goose label. This place ended up being one of the most fun and friendly museums we have visited yet on this trip.

Phoenix and GeminiJets June Preorder News

Diecast Airliner Model News from

May 26, 2011

Here are the June Preorder models from Phoenix and GeminiJets. We are really excited to see the McQuire AFB C-17 in both 1:200 and 1:400 and the Travis AFB C-5 in 1:400!

Free shipping on orders over $100 (48 US states)

url photo ItemName MSPR Sale Price
Phoenix 400 June Preorders
PH4TUI592 Tuifly B737-800 "Haribo Golden Bear" ~ D-ATUD (1:400) 42.95 39.95
PH4ACA593 Air Canada A330-300 ~C-GHKW (1:400) 45.95 36.95
PH4HVN594 Vietnam Airlines A330-200 VN-A375 (1:400) 45.95 39.95
PH4ALK595 Srilankan A330-200 "New Livery" 4R-ALD (1:400) 45.95 39.95
PH4MDL596 Mandala A320-200 PK-RMK (1:400) 41.95 39.95
PH4SAA597 South African A330-200 ZS-SXZ (1:400) 45.95 35.95
PH4CHH598 Hainan Airlines B767-300 B-2492 (1:400) 43.95 39.95
PH4VIR599 Virgin Atlantic A330-300 "New Livery" ~G-VSXY (1:400) 45.95 37.95
PH4CES600 China Eastern A321-200 ~B-6592 (1:400) 42.95 39.95
PH4JAL601 Japan Airlines B767-300 "New Livery" ~JA654J (1:400) 43.95 36.95
PH4ETD602 Etihad A330-300 "Visit Abu Dhabi" ~A6-AFA (1:400) 45.95 37.95
PH4THA603 Thai Airways B747-400 "New Livery" ~HS-TGL (1:400) 49.95 39.95
PH4THA604 Thai Airways B747-400 "New Livery" ~HS-TGR (1:400) 49.95 42.95
PH4VOZ605 Virgin Australia A330-200 "New Livery" ~VH-XFB (1:400) 45.95 42.95
PH2AHY067 Azerbaijan Airlines TU-154B2 ~4K-85548 (1:200) 61.95 39.95
GeminiJets 400 June Preorders
GJBAW1037 British Airways B757-200 G-CPET "Negus" (1:400) 33.95 28.95
GJCOA466 Continental B737-500 N14645 "Last Livery" (1:400) 31.95 27.95
GJGIA1038 Garuda Indonesia B737-400 PK-GZI "Old Livery" (1:400) 31.95 27.95
GJQFA1057 Qantas A380-800 VH-OQF (1:400) 51.95 44.95
GJQFA1058 Qantas B747-400 VH-OEB "2011 Grand Prix" (1:400) 45.95 39.95
GMUSA048 USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III "McGuire AFB" ~88199 (1:400) 36.95 31.95
GMUSA049 USAF Lockheed C-5 Galaxy "Travis AFB" ~77030 (1:400) 45.95 39.95
GeminiJets 200 June Preorders
G2AWE238 America West Express Fokker F-70 ~N528Y (1:200) 60.95 51.95
G2AFO203 USAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III "McGuire AFB" (1:200) 108.95 92.95

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Planes of Fame Museum, Valle, AZ - May 17, 2011 Visit

Planes of Fame Museum - Valle, Arizona

The Planes of Fame museum has two locations. The main one is in Chino, California, but there is also a small branch of the museum in Valle, Arizona. The advantage to the one in Valle is that it is only 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon, so my son, Shelby, and I were able to kill two birds with one stone and visit both the museum and the canyon in our two days here.

Link to all the pictures from Planes of Fame

Link to Planes of Fame Museum website

The museum facility in Valle is only one hangar, but many of the planes on display are in flyable condition and obviously maintained with loving care, and a lot of expense. Check out the T-28 pictures for example. It looked like you could eat of the cowling it was so shiny.

The Jennie that is on display has no canvas on the wings and fuselage and is kept that way to show the intracate and beautiful wood work and there are several other World War I vintage aircraft on display. Apparently many of the planes here have been used in Hollywood movies.

Outside there is a beautiful Pacific Air Lines Martin 404. Unfortunately it is not open to go inside it. Don't forget to walk around to the back of the museum if you visit. There is a small bone yard of vintage fighter jets that you can poke around. I've even added a couple of shots from the small terminal building next door which has a spit-polished selection of antique cars and motorcycles on display. Check out the Honda 90 actually used in Desert Storm. There is a canteen on either side of the tail rack. One is labeled water, the other, Scotch.

Shelby, my son, and I have a few family visits to make in the California Bay area in the next few days. We've been camping now for two weeks with snow in the Rockies and cold rain in Zion National Park so we are looking forward to a few days respite in a real house.

We'll be at the McMinville, Oregon museum this Thursday and I am really looking forward to seeing the Spruce Goose.

Thanks for following my travels.

Steven Howand

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Travel Blog - Combat Aircraft Museum - Topeka, KS

Combat Air Museum - Topeka, Kansas

If I might describe a museum in terms of personality, the Combat Air Museum in Topeka, Kansas gets high marks for being friendly and personal. Don, the volunteer in the gift shop and tickets sales, immediately struck up a conversation asking where we were from, telling us about the history of the museum, tidbits about the various aircraft, etc. I sort of felt like I could hang out here all day swapping stories. If I lived near Topeka, Kansas, I would clearly find my self spending a lot of time here as a volunteer.

Link to all the pictures
Link to museum website

The Combat Air Museum is not a huge museum and it doesn't have a big budget, but the range of modern aircraft is very interesting and you can get up close in a way that you can't at many museums. Many of the aircraft are on loan from the Air Force and Navy. Some are on loan from the individual owners. The Mig-15 for example is privately owned, but apparently the fellow that bought it flew it for a year, then dropped it off at the museum. He said he was lucky to still be alive after flying such a squirrelly high performance aircraft and would quit while he was ahead. So even though many aircraft are on loan, one gets the impression that they are here to stay. In fact, the museum has been offered more aircraft but doesn't have room.

The main hangar is the primary display hangar with nice display boards giving interesting details and back stories for the individual aircraft and most of the aircraft have stairways so that you can look in the cockpit. A real highlight here is the F9F panther. I don't remember seeing one of these up close before and this is not the most well known of fighter aircraft, but it has a unique shape and was a very important aircraft in its day. (See my video review of the F9F panther by Hobby Master). There are a few WW II aircraft, but the main focus is clearly on aircraft of the Korean and Vietnam War eras which is fine by me as these early jets are fascinating.

Another highlight is the EC-121T sitting on the ramp. It looks a bit forlorn on the outside, but it's open for walking through and inside it I feel as though I could flick a switch and it would come to life. Let's get those radar screens running, or brew a cup of coffee in the galley and sit a bit in the crew rest area while off shift. The guys and women who fly on the electronic surveillance aircraft do an unglamorous but incredibly essential and effective role.

In the second hangar you feel like you have walked into a busy maintenance facility. There are a few complete and flyable aircraft in here, like a beautifully maintained 1944 C-47, but most of the aircraft are in some state of restoration. I loved seeing the F-86 with rear half of the fuselage removed and the engine hanging out just waiting for a crew to work on it. You can see from my photos that this hangar is jam packed with wonderful aircraft. You have to be careful walking around to not hit your head on a wing tip or pitot tube, but it makes the whole experience come alive. Perhaps brushing up against the skin of these birds lets some of the history and personality rub off directly on you. In short, this place is well worth the visit.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

United States Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio - May 10, 2011 visit

United States Air Force Museum

The United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio is simply amazing. I'll be the first to admit that I've never seen a museum I didn't like, but this museum stands out as one of the top museums for military aviation in the United States, and on top of that it's free!

The three hangars are divided into 4 main areas; The early years from the Wright Brothers to World War II, Aircraft of World War II, Modern Flight, and Cold War. In the hallway between the hangars are special exhibits such as one about the Berlin Airlift, and there is a small wing that is the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

There is also an iMax theater, which is a great place to sit for an hour when your feet are tired from all that walking, an outdoor exhibit area that has a replica airfield control tower from World War II and additional airplanes, plus there is a second location on the active military base that houses four presidential airplanes.

With over 400 aircraft any one day visit can only hit the highlights. This is my third visit but there is so much more to see. I've posted a selection of pictures on Flickr (here's the link). It's not the best place to take pictures, but it will give you an idea of what they have on display.

Here are two of my favorite aircraft that can be seen at this museum.

B-29 Superfortress "Bockscar"
While the Enola Gay is more well known for it's role in dropping the first atomic bomb on HIroshima Japan, Bockscar was the follow up atomic bomb drop oh Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The B-29 is an impressive aircraft that was the culmination of bomber development in World War II and played an important part in ending the war. These B-29s outfitted for dropping atomic bombs are incredibly important at reminding us of the horrors of war. One cannot stand beside this plane and not think of the incredible bravery of out fighting troops, the difficulties of political decisions made in war time and the terrible price paid by the Japanese victims of there own governments intransigence and inability to see that the war was over long before these bombs were dropped.

Consolidated B-36 Peacemaker
Of course, the nuclear threat developed in WW II was only the beginning and once new technology is developed it can never again be shut away. So the cold war became the center of life for the generation after World War II and the race to built bigger and longer range bombers was on. Though the B-52 eventually became the best of the next generation bombers, there were several steps in between. The big aircraft of the 50's that I find the most awe inspiring is the B-36. I guess I am biased as my dad spent a year flying right seat on these behemoths and has plenty of stories to tell. Actually, though he spent a year at Loring Air Force Base in Maine, one can't say he spent a year flying. The crews would fly 24 missions (30,000 gallons of avgas on board to start the flight) and then have a week of boredom in between flights while the big 4 row, 28 cylinder R4360 engines were repaired and made ready for the next flight.

In any case this is a BIG plane and I would have loved to have seen a formation of these lumbering overhead with 6 turning and 4 burning (6 R4360's and 4 jets engines).