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Successful Fly-In at Hood River Oregon

Bud Liberatore, EAA 738681

September 22, 2016 - The airshow highlight of our summer has to be the recent 2016 Hood River Fly-In. We drove north on Highway 97 and 197 to The Dalles, then a short hop west on Interstate 84 to Hood River, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. It was a pleasant six-hour drive up the high eastside of the Cascades.

The weather all weekend long was befitting a great fly-in and a remarkable working museum. Approximately 500 airplanes showed up, many with tents and miscellaneous camping gear.

Everything about the event and venue was top-notch. Our visit was a pleasurable one thanks to hundreds of volunteers who are the brains, backbone, muscle, and tendons of the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM). In existence for just ten years, WAAAM is growing into a premier aviation gemstone in one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the Northwest.

My wife Miriam and I arrived at Ken Jernstedt Airfield on Friday afternoon and met friends Claire and Gary, already set up in their home on wheels. The museum had a spaghetti dinner to feed the hungry masses, which went well with our cabernet. Friends Dan and Mary eventually pulled in after dark with a fifth-wheel trailer and their dog, Shelby. Happy hour was rekindled as we enjoyed the company, the conversation, and the view of the field of airplanes under a starry summer sky.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we rendezvoused at the campground for a round of hot coffee before taking the short walk to the museum for a delicious pancake breakfast. The food was plentiful and the cadre of volunteers kept the place humming like a Wright Whirlwind. We didn’t sit long because there was a day of gawking and picture taking ahead.

The acres of airplanes were impressive in their variety and shine. Many of these flying gems wore a prop card and any one of them could have been the winner. In the rare and unusual category were a Boeing Model 40 and a Bellanca Aircruiser, both large and very impressive.

To name all the aircraft we saw in the museum, almost all in airworthy condition, is beyond me. WAAAM’s collection represents the pioneering and golden years of aviation in great numbers and detail. There are a great many road vehicles in the assemblage to see and enjoy too, most in roadworthy condition. The museum is currently adding another 10,000 square feet to house its expanding collection and restoration work spaces.

This annual event has to go on our “not to be missed” list.

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