My visit to the Western Aerospace Museum

On Sept. 15th I was going to Oakland Coliseum to watch the "A"s play. It was a Friday so we went early to avoid the rush hour traffic... As we got off the freeway I saw a sign "Air Museum"... having some time and knowing that it is not a place where they keep old air I followed the signs and came to the Western Aerospace Museum, adjacent to the Oakland Airport. We got there about 3:30 and they were going to close soon so we only got to look at the outside... But I found that they have a website and sent an email speaking of my personal interest and advising them that I had placed a link on my site to theirs. I was contacted by Greg and he invited me to come on a Sunday and he would give me a tour of their aircraft so when the opportunity came I visited with my neighbor Rose.
On our way we stopped in Vernalis, (I recently learned that it was a site of one of the auxiliary airfields to Alameda Naval Air station during WWII),  for breakfast. While there we noticed a trio of paraplanes(?) in a nearby alfalfa field prep'd for an early morning flight, so I took some pictures of them as well.
Then on to the WAM in good time and WOW!!! Right away they treated us like old friends and first thing asked to help them move an TAV-8A Harrier formerly owned by NASA. What a blast! I met several of the regular volunteers including John, a retired pilot who has actually logged time in one of the aircraft in their inventory. I am so looking forward to going back to add to my pictures and my association with these avid aviation enthusiasts. 
 
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The flight controls, with me caught in the mirror probably used to keep an eye on the parafoil.
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One of the power plants...
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The propulsion unit
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The first one to take off from the field came over and did some low level flying in the field across from the cafe while he waited for the other two to get aloft. 
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After making a run down the field he banked around back over the cafe where we had breakfast.
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We even got a waive...
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He went back over the field and I accidentally caught a shot of this tour bus... Looks like some kind of sleeper section in the back...
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The third one is out of our view to the right as they head down the road... And it's time for us to head out as well.
And now for the real goal of our day,
The Western Aerospace Museum
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The front door.
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The Harrier in it's previous location in the front of the hanger complex.
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A mock-up of the airport layout with WAM in the lower center.
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The layout of the building and grounds and a list of the aircraft inside. 
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The gift shop is in the front of the main structure. 
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Looking back from the gift shop... there are several rooms on the sides of the main hall/hanger with some very interesting exhibits.
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Before we could relocate the Harrier we had to re-locate the A-4 Skyhawk in the lower right of the layout diagram to provide clearance for the move.
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Hooking up the tug boom.
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We brought it forward and then backed it into the corner it came out of.
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Greg and John detaching the tug after placing the A-4 in it's new position... 
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Relocating the Harrier would prove to be much more complex than moving the Skyhawk and required some deliberation before getting started.
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It was a collaborative effort.
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The boom didn't leave much room for error with the tug...
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We backed it around the corner of the structure, under the Solent's wing and then out into the parking lot. Pretty much of an ess... it took some time and care.
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Like a glove!
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The Harrier in the parking lot with my car in the background..
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Once in the parking lot we turned it around and backed it into the yard
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The starboard wheel is flat and a bumper jack just won't cut it...
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The forward section of the DC-6 that was purchased as part of the whole aircraft.
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The flight deck is used to train flight engineers and so it is not for touching of the levers and controls.
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Common sense rules for flight...
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A thumbnail history of this aircraft is posted on an aft bulkhead.
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The also have a photo of this aircraft in flight, doing duty as a firefighting borate bomber.
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A volunteer helping pump the hydraulics to open the canopy of the KA-6 Intruder
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Once the canopy was opened I climbed up for a closer look.
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A much closer look.
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Looking toward the front of the yard from my perch on the A-6.
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Looking the other way, across their other A-4 and a MIG 15..
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Across at the A-3 that had been flown by John.
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The F-86 Sabre jet needs more volunteers.
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Their Vought A-7 Corsair II
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The F-14 Tomcat.
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Chinese MIG 15... The ejection seat is still active so care must be taken...
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A mobile KA-6D full motion flight simulator. A very unique item! 
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The monitor's control panels.
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The cockpit.
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A Monocoupe 110
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The Boeing PT-17 Stearman.
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Looking forward toward the gift shop.
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Lockheed Electra 10-A. This is the type that Amelia Earhart flew into history and oblivion. There were cracks in the port landing gear so the engine nacelle and gear are temporarily off.
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And now, the Short Solent, I was really excited to tour this aircraft and have since found more information... I was told that this example was owned at one time by none other than Howard Hughes himself!
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Looking past the entryway to the aft ladies lounge door.
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The ladies lounge.
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Looking forward from the ladies lounge.
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The flight deck.
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The navigators station.
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Crew bunks...
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Some excellent additional links for those interested...
Short S45A Solent Mk.IV
Additional shots of this Solent
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Closing up the A-6 at the end of the day.
   
I would like to express my deep appreciation to the wonderful and dedicated volunteers at the Western Aerospace Museum and encourage anyone who is able to volunteer even a single afternoon to help these good folks. And for those interested, the museum is open Wed - Sun. As for me, I plan to return very soon to fill out my gallery and to learn more about the exhibits and the backgrounds of the people who sacrifice their time to provide such a fine place for viewing these aircraft. -The Kid

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