Located in Hood River, Oregon, the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum showcases a collection of antique North American aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles, and artifacts related to the transportation industry. The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum was created to display the collections of airplane collector Terry Brandt, whose parents served as fixed base operators at Marysville, California’s airport and later operated a fight school in the area.
As a child, Brandt grew up with a love for flying and aircraft, learning to fly a plane at the age of 12 and purchasing his first collector airplane at the age of 19. In 2006, when faced with the prospect of needing to parse down his collection at auction, Brandt formed a nonprofit organization for the creation of an aviation and transportation museum. The museum’s collections were initially formed with a donation of 42 airplanes by Brandt, along with 20 vintage North American automobiles to be displayed. In 2007, the museum opened to the public within a 95,000-square-foot gallery space. Subsequent additions were made to the building in 2009, 2013, and 2016 to accommodate growing collections, including the addition of extra hangars for display space.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum showcases more than 315 airplanes, automobiles, and other aviation and transportation-related memorabilia. The museum is operated as a nonprofit organization committed to historic vehicle preservation and public education regarding the aviation and automobile industries and the history of transportation technology in North America. It is open to the public daily, with the exception of major national holidays, and is regarded as the second-highest-rated attraction in the Hood River area by TripAdvisor.
WAAAM’s collection is one of the largest collections of still-operated antique airplanes and automobiles in North America, showcasing a variety of rare, unique, and historic models. The museum’s Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" barnstormer aeroplane is considered to be the “crown jewel” of its collection, acquired by the museum’s chief pilot, Ben Davidson, from dismantled storage in an Ohio barn. The aircraft was designed by B. Douglas Thomas and Glenn Curtis and was the preferred trainer used by the United States and Britain in World War I, with an estimated 95% of American and British forces using them throughout the war. Following the war, the plane’s manufacturer repurchased many of the crafts and remarketed them as civilian planes, which popularized the practice of acrobatic touring “barnstorming.” The machines were also used to deliver air mail flights throughout the early part of the 20th century.
Other planes in the museum’s airplane collection include several Piper J-3 Cub and WACO Taper Wing planes, as well as antique planes by manufacturers such as Aeronica, Stearman, and Stinson. Automobile collections focus on the “Golden Age of Transportation” from the 1920s through the 1940s, including a 1923 Model 48 Sportif Locomobile, a luxury line produced by Ford in the early 20th century. Other classic Fords on display include the Model A and Model T cars. A 1909 and 1929 Franklin are also showcased, along with a 1914 Detroit Electric and a number of Packard and Studebaker models.
Nearly 30 antique and classic motorcycles are displayed, including vehicles produced by Harley Davidson, Indian, Cushman, and more. Many motorcycles are integrated into larger airplane and automobile displays and are often missed by visitors, so WAAAM encourages visitors to play a “hunt the motorcycle” game and check in with information desk staff with their results after touring the museum. A collection of antique military vehicles features equipment from the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam eras, while other collections showcase gliders, tractors, bicycles, and transportation-related memorabilia. A special museum section is also dedicated to historic women in aviation and transportation fields, and a children’s area provides safe activities for younger visitors.
Ongoing Programs and Events
Group rates and tours are available for small groups and organizations, including field trip opportunities for elementary and secondary school groups. Every second Saturday, drives in the museum’s antique cars and military vehicles are offered, with veterans encouraged to share their war stories with drivers and docents. Indoor demonstrations and activities for visitors are also offered. A variety of courses are offered for amateur vehicle enthusiasts, including Model T driving lessons and a driving school program oriented toward operating and understanding classic cars of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. A historic vehicle restoration program also offers a five-level certificate training, and a youth summer camp introduces aviation principles to students ages 9-12. Public special events throughout the year include a Traffic Jam Car Show, a Hood River Annual Fly-In, and a WAAAM Parts Swap event.
1600 Air Museum Rd, Hood River, OR 97031, Phone: 541-308-1600