In 1943, with World War II surging overseas, the United States constructed the Madras Army Air Field in central Oregon to train American soldiers for war. When the conflict ended, the facility’s two massive hangars were left mostly vacant—until 2014, when one of them became a museum housing the Erickson Aircraft Museum.
Occupying the entirety of the hangar’s 64,000 square feet, the unique collection features 20 military planes dating back to the Second World War. It is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of original WWII-era aircraft, spanning from fighter planes to ducks.
The best opportunity the museum offers, however, is the ability to fly in the planes themselves. The aircraft museum is one of the few places out there where you can ride in a warbird from the 1930s or ’40s, a dream come true for vintage plane enthusiasts.
Back on solid ground, some special models on display include the Madras Maiden, easily identified by the lady in red painted on the side; the J2F-6 Duck, a water-faring craft once placed on aircraft carriers; and the Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk, the front of which is designed as an angry face with sharp teeth.
In addition to the vintage planes, the collection includes Jeeps, bomber jackets, classic cars, historic photos, and even a tank, giving a closer look at the equipment and apparel made in the war effort.