Located in the heart of Sagle Idaho on the Idaho Panhandle, the Bird Aviation and Invention Center is a perfect destination for science and aviation enthusiasts. Since its opening in 2007, the Bird Aviation and Invention Center has enriched the local community by providing world-class education centered on both aviation and innovation. The museum showcases 20 aircraft that demonstrate the growth of the aviation industry from WWI to the present day. In addition, the institution has a robust innovation exhibit space that introduces the public to notable 20th century inventors who have pushed the boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of society.
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1939 Beech Aircraft Company model F-17-D
With a revolutionary design representing a sizable advance in aviation history, the F-17-D, nicknamed the “Staggerwing,” is a must-see model at the Bird Aviation and Invention Center. The output and efficacy of this aircraft led to its enduring use. Many will be surprised to know that this vintage-looking airplane is still flown to this day. The model on display at the museum runs on a seven cylinder Jacobs 755 engine, which produces 275 horsepower. The plane had many amenities considered modern in its day, including radios, modern navigating equipment, and, modern instruments.
1977 Riley Turbine Eagle
Considered as the flagship aircraft in the museum’s fixed winged fleet, the Riley Turbine Eagle was known for providing a smooth and quiet journey. The display model that visitors see today was restored in 1999. Several modifications were made during the restoration project. With a fuel capacity of 340 gallons, the plane can fly upwards of 6 hours.
Alon A-2, 1967 vintage
While the A-2 is often overlooked by pilots, this remarkable plane has many features that make it a notable specimen. It differs from its Ercoupe predecessors in that it has independent three axis flight controls. This feature allows the plane to perform on par with airplanes of much greater horsepower while at the same time retaining the maneuverability for which it is known.
1947 Republic RC-7 "Sea Bee"
True to its name, the “Sea Bee” is distinguished by its excellent water takeoff performance. The museum’s display model was restored in 2001 ,at which point the aircraft underwent extensive modifications that included the installation of a new engine, reversing propeller, and extended ailerons as well as modern avionic and instrumentation. The wingspan of the aircraft was also extended giving the plane a powerful new look that is bound to impress museumgoers.
Forrest M. Bird
Known for developing the prototype for the Bird Universal Medical Respirator, Forrest M. Bird’s career is a testament to public service. As the son of a WWI pilot, Bird’s passion for aviation was quickly discovered. By his mid-teens he was already flying solo and working towards major flight authorizations. In WWII, Bird became a technical air training officer, which gave him access to every plane available at the time. His work in that era presented him with a challenge that would become his life’s work. At the time airplanes were reaching altitudes never before seen in aviation. This presented respiration issues for the pilots who manned these powerful machines. Bird took it upon himself to study mammalian pathophysiology with the help of an Army Corps physician. Having discovered this new passion, Bird attended medical school, after which he began work on the first respirator prototype, which was used in acute or chronic cardiopulmonary care. His discoveries were instrumental for the fields of both aviation and medicine.
Alfred and Helen Free
This husband and wife team dedicated their lives to developing medical analysis tests that helped people living with diabetes have healthy and productive lives. Known as the world’s leading experts in urinalysis, they published several notable books on the subject, including Urodynamics and Urinalysis in Laboratory Practice. Their work culminated in the creation of dry reagents that are still used today both in laboratory settings and in consumer products that allow diabetics to monitor their blood glucose levels at home.
Patsy Sherman and Samuel Smith
While many of the inventors highlighted at the Bird Invention Center are responsible for creations that are impactful in their field but not otherwise recognized by the general public, Patsy Sherman and Samuel Smith are an exception. The chemists worked together at 3M Company, where they created one of the most widely used stain and soil repellent products on the market. Today, their invention, branded as Scotchguard, is a household name.
325 Bird Ranch Road., Sagle, ID 83860, Phone: 208-255-4321