A Return to World War II–Tillamook Air Museum


An aerial photo provided by the museum

 While mini-vacationing on the Oregon coast last weekend, my husband and I visited the Tillamook Air Museum. “Hangar B”, as it is referred to, was commissioned, along with its sister, “Hangar A”, by the Navy in December 1942 and completed in August of 1943. The structure is more than a thousand feet long and almost 200 feet ( fifteen stories) high. It covers an area of seven acres, enough room to play six football games. Doors are one hundred twenty feet high. 

 The Navy constructed seventeen such hangars around the nation in 1942. Hangar A was completed in only twenty seven days which, when considering the size of the building and the era in which it was built, seems like a miracle. No serious injuries were reported on the project—another wonder. Hangar A was destroyed by fire in 1992. 

The hangars were used to house the K-class blimps the Navy was using for anti-submarine coastal patrol and convoy escort. Squadron ZP-33 was stationed at Hangar B with a complement of eight K-ships. Each blimp was 252 feet long and filled with 425,000 cubic feet of helium. They could stay aloft for three days and cover a range of 2000 miles, an ability well-suited to patrolling the coast and escorting ships. 

The hangar, decommissioned in 1948, has been one of the top five privately owned collections in the nation since 1994. Reconditioned planes of every sort imaginable, as well as other WWII regalia, fill its interior. Exhibits include military work stations where a mannequin in navy, army, or marine uniform sits at his post amid equipment used during the war. A theater offers an overview of the hangar and its history, as well as a museum area that hosts letters, medals and pictures from that era. Scattered around the site are classic cars, military vehicles, a helicopter or two, and searchlights.

Well worth the trip, the Tillamook Air Museum is an adventure back in time and comes reasonably priced. Even a replica of a wartime café is open for business and sells everything from burger baskets in red-and-white-checkered containers to latté mochas. The museum is a reminder of the price that has been paid for the freedom we continue to enjoy and of God’s blessing on our nation.

Psalm 33:12 (KJ) “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

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