Like many of my generation, my grandfather was a part of the Greatest Generation, a proud World War 2 veteran until the day he passed away. He was also a history teacher and he instilled in me a love of history that has never gone away. My favorite historical era? World War 2.
That’s why I’m still kicking myself that, my one and only time in Hawaii, I failed to check out Pearl Harbor.
Thankfully, I don’t have to fly over to the Pacific Ocean to rectify the situation. Just a quick jaunt from Portland over the Coastal Range to Tillamook, Oregon and I can witness history at the Naval Air Station Museum.
Perhaps best known for its world renowned cheese, the Naval Air Station Tillamook Museum, housed in an authentic wooden World War 2 Blimp hangar, features uncommon wartime and aviation-themed relics, upwards of fifteen air craft, a museum store, and a café. Located barely an hour from Portland, the Naval Air Station Tillamook Museum is one of the most unique US attractions and, with five new aircraft on the way (and a very reasonable fee of $9 per person/$25 per family) , there’s no better time to check out this museum.
Open seven days a week, this museum is overlooked by the cheese factory, but, for lovers of history and aviation, this is a must experience. From the Mini-Guppy from the late 40’s to fighter jets like the Tomcat and helicopters, aviation of all shapes and sizes reside here, filling the museum goer with knowledge, awe and imagination.
But, more than just planes and helicopters, World War 2 era fire engines, jeeps, and civilian vehicles from the Depression round out the experience.
My son (who has also been instilled with a love and appreciation of history) and I make this a yearly excursion, soaking up all the knowledge and wonder we can before grabbing a bite to eat the café, grabbing a gift from the gift shop, and heading back over the magnificent coast range. It’s not only an enriching trip for the history buff, it’s a great way for father and son to spend some quality time together on shared interest and, knowing that he is getting older and his desire to hang out with me is going to decrease over time, I cherish these moments. Plus, they remind me of grandpa. He would have loved this museum. I sure do miss him.
The Naval Air Station Tillamook Museum is open seven day a week from 10-5 and is located at 6030 Hangar Road in Tillamook, Oregon just a hair more than an hour from Portland, Oregon. This is a must visit for residents and tourists alike.