June 18, 2006 - Tillamook Air Museum, Oregon

I took off from McMinnville Airport and headed northwest towards the coast.  I was heading for the coastal town of Tillamook where during World War II there was a Naval Air Station.  Blimps, used for anti-submarine warfare, were stationed there, and housed in huge, distinctive blimp hangars.  Now one of the hangars is used for an aviation museum and that is where I was headed.

On the chart, the mountains didn't look too high so I just headed straight for Tillamook.  However, I soon realized that I was flying over some pretty rugged, uncivilized mountains.  As you can see, this is logging country!  These forested mountains have been logged pretty heavily.  There were lots of logging roads, very little civilization.  I only had to fly about 30 miles to get past  them, but I was pretty happy to be done with it. 

Some of the areas had really been clear cut. 
And finally I see the Pacific Ocean ahead!
The airport is in the middle of the valley dead ahead. 
A good look at the airport and the big blimp hangar which has a lot of rust on it.  There used to be two hangars, but one burned down in 1992.  The four corner pylons are still standing and visible in this picture.  At it's peak, eight K-ships operated out of NAS Tillamook.  The K-ships were 251 feet long and filled with 425,000 cu. ft. of helium.  They had a range of 2,000 miles and could stay aloft for three days.  They patrolled the coast looking for Japanese submarines and escorted convoys. 
Parked in front of the hangar.  The hangar is 1,072 feet long and 192 feet high.  It covers an area of 7 acres. 
Looking inside.  The hangar is so big that it is impossible to light very well.  It was sort of dark and dingy which made it kind of depressing.
They built the base in the early days of World War II and closed it soon after the war.
A colorful Mig-17.
A big, beautiful F4U Corsair.  This is the paint scheme I'm thinking about for my RV-7.
F-14 Tomcat. 
Looking at the top of the Tomcat.
A battle-worn A-7 Corsair.  This particular plane fought in Vietnam and Desert Storm I.  Check out the little camels on the aircraft's nose -- one for each bombing mission.
The hangar is made of wood.  Amazing.  There are two catwalks, each 137 feet high.  There is absolutely no way you'd ever get me up there! 
A Grumman Duck -- big, single-engine, amphibian floatplane. 
Some of the other planes in the collection that I liked were a PBY Catalina flying boat, SBD Dauntless, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-38 Lightning, PV-2 Harpoon, P2V Neptune, AD-4 Skyraider, FM-2 Wildcat.  There was a neat room with artifacts, models and photos about the base during World War II.  All in all, this is a nice aviation museum, well worth visiting. 
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