by Nancy Bestor
I’m not an aviation buff. I fly on planes to get me places, and don’t really know the difference between a 737, a 747 or a 787. I feel the same way about cars—they get me around, but I struggle with understanding, or even caring really, about the difference between a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder engine. Thus when Bob suggested we stop at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River this summer, I plastered a smile on my face and said I’d be happy to visit. I may or may not have been lying.
Boy was I surprised. With 100 antique aircraft, some dating as far back as 1917, and more than 130 cars, plus motorcycles and jeeps, the WAAAM truly has something for everyone. Each aircraft on display has been completely restored, and amazingly, every single one of them still flies on a regular basis. I was drawn to the pretty ones, those with beautifully colored paint jobs in teals and red, but they are all interesting to look at, and many have fascinating stories to go along with them.
The Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” for example, was the most popular training airplane in World War I. The Pietenpol Sky Scout, built in 1932, has a Ford Model A engine. Other planes on hand flew mail to Alaska, appeared in famous movies, and more!
The car collection is just as impressive. From 1914 Ford Model T’s to 1957 Studebaker’s, it made me wish I had a much cooler car than my 2003 Toyota Sienna minivan, otherwise known as a “mom van.” Lest you think I’m a total dork, back in the day I did own a cherry red 1977 convertible Volkswagen bug. (I like to call those the glory days. But I digress.)
The museum has so much to offer, and incredibly friendly docents are at the ready to answer any questions that might arise. WAAAM hosts Model T driving classes, aviation camps for kids, a monthly open house where visitors can ride in antique autos, an annual “fly-in”, swap meets, and much, much more. It’s amazing what this museum in Hood River, Oregon has to offer. We learned of this museum on Yelp, when we were looking for interesting things to do in the Hood River area, and the eight reviews-—each with five stars-—were the impetus for our stopping by. I highly recommend this museum if you’re in Hood River. It is well worth the $14 admission price. In the end I was very happy that we visited. And that’s no lie.