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WAAAM

Staggerwing

1943 Beech D17S Staggerwing

Snow-capped Mount Hood towered off our left wing as we passed over the green fields and farms of the Deschutes River Valley. I was flying our club's Cessna 172 with my buddy Michael in the right seat and his daughter Heather in the back. We were bumping along gently at 6,500 feet riding the up- and down-drafts under scattered, puffy cumulus clouds. Our fellow club members Hal and Anders had gone on ahead in our club's A36 Bonanza. We'd all participated in this year's Hayward Air Rally to Bend, Oregon the day before and now we were on our way to visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River, a small town on the Southern bank of the Columbia River, a little over 90 nautical miles North of Bend.

"How'd you find out about this place?" I asked Michael.

Pierce Arrow

1931 Pierce Arrow Model 41 Limousine

"I went to Google and typed in 'Oregon Air Museums' and it came right up" he answered. "It looks really interesting."

The terrain between us and Hood River wasn't going to allow my usual 500 feet-per-minute descent from altitude. We were only 10 miles from the airport when it finally emerged from behind the last ridge and we had 5,000 feet to lose.

"Looks like we'll be circling to descend," I said as I throttled back and started down. As it was, I only needed to make one circle before we were ready to enter the pattern. As I turned final, it was obvious we were quite high, so I went around for a second try. This time I was still a bit high turning final, but a gentle slip was enough to get us down without difficulty.

Cord

1936 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan

"The terrain off the approach end is quite a bit higher than field elevation," Michael observed. "I think that's what threw you."

"Yeah, I think you're right," I said as we tied down the airplane. Every new airport is a new adventure, and as we soon learned, Hood River and its museum make for a better adventure than most.

"This is an amazing collection!" I said to Hal as we wandered through the cavernous hangar looking at the dozens of meticulously restored and maintained aircraft and automobiles. There were cars dating back to 1899 and airplanes to the teens, almost all in stunning condition and most of them operational. Because it was the second Saturday of the month, museum volunteers had fired up several of the vintage machines and were giving people rides.

Stanley Steamer

1918 Stanley Steamer

One of the stars of the show was a 1918 Stanley Steamer, literally fired up using kerosene to boil water. It took quite a while to get up to operating pressure.

"How much longer?" Michael asked the man tending the steamer.

"Well, we're only up to fifty pounds," he answered.

"What's running pressure?"

"Five hundred," he said with a smile. About an hour later, though, the Steamer was ready to roll and several of us piled in for a ride.

"It's so quiet!" Heather marveled as we got underway. The most noticeable sound was the creak of the wooden wheel spokes, which were dry and a little loose because of the low humidity.

Travel Air

1931 Curtiss Wright Travel Air 12-W

"This thing picks up pretty well," Michael said to our driver.

"Yes, it was fast for its time," he replied. "The earlier models were even quicker because they only weighed about half as much."

We spent another hour or so wandering around and enjoying the beautiful machines. When I looked at my watch, it was mid-afternoon. The Rally awards banquet in Bend started at 5:30, so we needed to leave soon.

"Well, I'm not leaving without getting a ride in the Steamer!" Hal said and headed off to join the short line of people waiting their turn. Heather joined him for another couple of spins around the block in that weird, wonderful, eerily quiet vehicle.

We swapped airplanes for the return flight and Heather asked for the right seat in the Bonanza so she could get some "stick time." I happily piled in the back. As we approached 7,500 feet, we were still below the scattered cloud base and it was bumpy.

"I vote for 9,500," I opined from the back seat.

"Sure, we can go to nine five," Michael replied.

"But I like the bumps!" Heather protested.

I chuckled and said, "Most pilots don't."

"Nine five is fine," Michael said with a smile. When we leveled, he asked Heather if she wanted to take the yoke for a while.

"Can I do whoopdedoos?" she asked.

"No whoopdedoos," her dad told her. "Just keep it straight and level, OK?"

She did a fine job. I have no doubt she'll be doing whoopdedoos on her own before we know it!

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