Soaring with the Warbirds
The Erickson Aircraft Collection is the Pacific Northwest's premier Flying Collection. The museum features one of the top collection of vintage warbirds in the country and offers a ride/membership program called "Soaring with the Warbirds". Take a ride in a WWII aircraft and experience history in flight. Our top-notch pilots fly you out over areas such as Lake Billy Chinook, up close and personal with Mt. Jefferson, Haystack Reservoir, Lake Stimtustus, Smith Rock, or where ever you want to fly within our 20 minute time limit. In the air you can experience the beauty of Central Oregon in a totally different perspective and have the experience of a lifetime. Give us a call today to schedule your ride, 541-460-5067, OR purchase your ride here online.
The Boeing Stearman PT-17 was typical of the biplane primary trainer used during the late 1930s and World War II and one of the most revered by pilots. Powered by a 240 hp seven-cylinder Continental engine, it was respected for its ruggedness, ease of maintenance, low operational costs and flight characteristics. Challenging to an inexperienced pilot was its tendency to ground-loop in cross winds. Over 10,000 were built for both the U.S. Army Air Force and the U.S. Navy and today many have found a new lease of life on the warbird circuit or serving as agricultural crop dusters and spraying aircraft.
The aircraft on display is a typical Boeing PT-17, USAAF serial number 42-16242. This aircraft was purchased surplus from the U.S. Government in February 1946 for $770.00 by a commercial aviation company and used as a pilot trainer until it was sold in January 1955. Over the next 32 years, it would be bought and re-sold seven times before coming to the Museum's collection in 1992.
North American Aviation, builder of the B-25 Mitchell bomber and the P-51 Mustang fighter, was also responsible for the design and production of one of the finest training and light attack aircraft in history. The AT-6 evolved from North American’s line of training aircraft that dated from 1935. This series, the BT-9 through BT-14, along with the BC-1, was redesignated the AT (Advanced Trainer) in 1940. The new plane was rapidly integrated into the Army aviation training program as the AT-6. Cadet pilots advanced to the Texan after mastering flying skills in the Stearman Kaydet PT (Primary Trainer), and the Vultee Valiant BT (Basic Trainer). U.S. Navy student pilots also flew the North American product which carried the Navy’s designation of SNJ. During World War II, the plane was utilized in training and attack roles by several nations, including Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the Soviet Union.
Use of the Texan continued into the post war period. In 1947, the plane was redesignated as the AT-6 by the newly established U.S. Air Force and remained in active service in this country until 1958. The aircraft has also performed in the armed forces of over fifty nations, including those of France, Israel, Spain, Brazil and New Zealand. Modified BC-1s were known as the Harvard and Yale in Great Britain and Canada, and the Wirraway in Australia. Since the Texan bears a resemblance to many Japanese WWII aircraft, altered AT-6s have represented planes from that nation in films such as Tora, Tora, Tora, and others.
Many aviation experts consider the Douglas DC-3 to be the most successful aircraft design in history. The military model of this plane was named by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with the jeep, the bazooka and the atom bomb, as one of the four weapons that contributed significantly to the allied victory in World War Two. Today, there are still examples of this rugged and reliable aircraft plying the world’s passenger and cargo routes some sixty years after its maiden flight. It is said that a DC-3, or its military version - the C-47, takes off somewhere in the world each day. The Douglas Commercial Three was a refinement of an earlier design, the DC-1. Shortly after its initial flight in December of 1935, the aircraft was ordered by American Airways and started service on the New York to Chicago run. Other airlines, both foreign and domestic, soon began to operate this sleek and modern design commercial carrier. The United States military took an interest and ordered aircraft altered to meet their specifications. These modifications included a stronger cabin floor, a reinforced rear fuselage with large loading doors and more powerful engines. This model was designated the C-47 Skytrain which could be utilized as a cargo hauler, personnel transport, paratroop plane, ambulance and glider tug.
During World War II, the C-47 was the primary cargo and troop carrier of the American military forces and served with distinction in all theaters of the war. Noteworthy accomplishments of the Skytrooper involved the airborne delivery - by parachute and glider - of combat troops and equipment in the Allied invasions of Sicily, Burma and Normandy. The aircraft was also used by the British Commonwealth nations where it was known as the Dakota and by the Soviet Union.
The C-47B on display, an early version, was built in late 1944 and delivered to the U.S. Army in February 1945. It was sent to Great Britain and stayed there until 1952 when it was transferred to the West German Luftwaffe. In 1962 it was delivered to Sweden where it served with their Air Force until 1982 at which time it returned to the United States for storage in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1996 it was acquired by the museum and arrived here on February 17, 1997. It was then refurbished and converted to a DC-3 with the installation of carpet, seats and a galley and head.
PBY CATALINA - COMING SOON! YOU'LL BE ABLE TO TAKE A FLIGHT IN THIS FAMOUS SEAPLANE!
The story of the most famous seaplane in aviation history began when the prototype of the Consolidated PBY Catalina first took to the air in March of 1935. It featured an internally supported parasol wing structure that was so near a true cantilever design as to need only two small struts on each side of the fuselage and stabilizing floats that retracted into the wing tips. Powered by two 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney radials, the later PBY-5A had a top speed of 179 mph and its nine-man crew could employ five machine guns for defensive purposes. The PBY had a long and distinguished career during World War II. It was a Catalina that first sighted the Japanese fleet, flying inbound to attack Midway Island in 1942, leading to a U.S. victory and a turning point in the war. A tough, dependable, and versatile aircraft, the PBY performed many roles for the Allied nations during the war, including bombing, reconnaissance, convoy escort, transport, and anti-submarine warfare. The Catalina's long-range abilities as a search and rescue seaplane saved the life of many a sailor or aviator adrift on an unfriendly sea. When production ended in 1945, some 4,000 Catalinas had been built at Consolidated plants in San Diego, Buffalo and New Orleans, the USN Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia and at Vickers and Boeing in Canada.
The museum’s airworthy Catalina is a typical PBY-5A built by Consolidated and accepted by the U.S. Navy in March 1944. Retired from active military duty in June 1950, it was sold to Catalina Ltd. for $3,100. Following several sales in the civilian market, it was acquired by the museum in 1990 and restored to its present condition.
Become a member of the Erickson Aircraft Collection and share the experience of flight with friend or family member. Call for more details on the different levels of membership.