WAAAM  

1600 Air Museum Rd.

Hood River, OR 97031

 

(541) 308-1600


Open Daily 9 - 5

Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day

 

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Stories About Our Objects

Women in Aviation

“You know when you’re boarding an airplane and you see a female piloWestern Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Director Judy Newman. t that you’re in good hands,” says WAAAM’s managing director, Judy Newman. “Women were born to multi-task, and they’re always looking ahead —which are very good things when it comes to flying.”

“Unfortunately,” says Judy, “female pilots never got the recognition they deserved, either in peace time or during the various wars that have been fought.” Judy wants to do her part in correcting that wrong.

That’s why WAAAM is dedicating several sections of the museum to women in aviation to honor female pilots, whether they fly commercial aircraft, military aircraft, or just for fun.

“You know when you’re boarding an airplane and you see a female piloWestern Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Director Judy Newman. t that you’re in good hands,” says WAAAM’s managing director, Judy Newman. “Women were born to multi-task, and they’re always looking ahead —which are very good things when it comes to flying.”

“Unfortunately,” says Judy, “female pilots never got the recognition they deserved, either in peace time or during the various wars that have been fought.” Judy wants to do her part in correcting that wrong.

That’s why WAAAM is dedicating several sections of the museum to women in aviation to honor female pilots, whether they fly commercial aircraft, military aircraft, or just for fun.

Melba Beard

Melba Beard sitting atop a Brunner-Winkle Bird. With generous donations from supporters of WAAAM, the museum purchased a 1928 Brunner-Winkle Bird that was previously owned by female aviator Melba Beard.

Melba Beard learned to fly in 1929, and paid for her flying lessons by trading babysitting for half-hour increments of flight instruction. Her parents did not want her to fly, so she did it on the sly, hiding her flying clothes in the bushes down the street from her house in Pasadena, California. She had such a passion to learn to fly, that she took five busses and a cable car to reach the Alhambra Airport in the Los Angeles area where she took her lessons.

One day while taking a lesson, the dapper Dr. William Beard showed up for some safety instructions for his new Brunner-Winkle Bird airplane. It was love at first sight. They eloped six weeks later and he gave her the airplane as a wedding present.

Beard went on to win the Amelia Earhart Trophy Race in 1935 at Cleveland, and was presented with the trophy by Earhart. Melba won other air-meets in the 1930’s and was one of the charter members of the women’s flying club, The Ninety-Nines, along with Earhart.

Beard had a string of other airplanes over the years, including Birds, WACOs and Ryans. Many of the planes she flew had the original OX-5 engines. Beard also earned her A&P license so she could work on the Kinner engine.

Upon retiring from flying, Beard gave the Bird to her flying daughter, Arlene, who took it to the Oshkosh Fly-In in 1991 where it won the Best Open Cockpit Biplane award.

WAAAM is very proud to be the new owner of this beautiful Brunner-Winkle Bird, which has such a marvelous story to tell. And, as serendipity would have it, WAAAM discovered that another one of its airplanes was also previously owned by Melba Beard … this one a 1931 Curtiss Wright Travel Air 12-W.

Amelia Earhart

Melba Beard receiving an award from Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart is probably the most well known of early female aviators. She was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, which she earned by flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932 at the age of 34. She set many other records during her lifetime, and was heavily engaged in promoting the advancement of flying opportunities for women.

Amelia Earhart gained fame not just for her transatlantic flight, but for various other competitive flying events as well. She made her first attempt at competitive air racing in 1929 when she flew in the Santa Monica-to-Cleveland Women’s Air Derby, later renamed the Powder Puff Derby. She subsequently went on to fly in, and later helped to sponsor, many other air racing events.

In addition to her role as consummate aviator, Earhart took on a number of positions where she had the opportunity to promote women in aviation. She did so, for instance, in her position as associate editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, in her role as an official of the National Aeronautic Association, in her role as a celebrity spokesperson for numerous marketing campaigns of the day, and in her role as founding member of the women’s flying organization known as The Ninety Nines, which is still active today.

Earhart disappeared on July 7, 1937, on her highly publicized flight that was circumnavigating the globe. The cause of her disappearance is still not certain, though the most commonly held belief is that she ran out of fuel. Official search efforts for Earhart lasted until July 19, 1937. She was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939.

The Ninety-Nines

The Ninety-Nines were founded by ninety-nine female aviators in 1929, for the purpose of providing mutual support and advancement of women in aviation. Amelia Earhart was the organization’s first president.

Located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, today The Ninety-Nines is an international organization of 5,500 licensed female pilots from 35 countries. Members include professional pilots, pilots who teach others to fly, pilots who are technicians and mechanics, and pilots who fly for pleasure.

The glue that holds all of these female pilots together is their love of flying.

The WASPs

World War II WASPs with ties to the Hood River Gorge. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were female pilots who were employed by the Unites States Army Air Forces during World War II. Totaling a little over a thousand pilots, these female pilots transported cargo, towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, and otherwise relieved male pilots for combat duty. There is little doubt that the war could not have been won had it not been for these pioneering and courageous women pilots.

For reasons that today seem unfathomable, WASPs were never afforded military status, and records of the WASPs were classified and sealed for 35 years. Consequently, their contributions to the war effort were little known and inaccessible to historians.

Still, WASPs fought for recognition of their service to country, and finally, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter granted the WASP corps full military status for their service. And notably, in 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.

More recently, on July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the United States Congress awarded the WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal for their service. President Obama said, "The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country's call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

   

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News Flash  

Twin Tunnels Tour Drive 2014

Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway have announced their 5th Antique Auto Tour for July 12, 2014.

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WAAAM Camp Dates Announced

Mark your calendars for June 23 - 26!

WAAAM Camp is coming back for another great year! Sign up here.

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2014 Traffic Jam Registration Is Here!

Click here for registration information.

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OUR WAAAM APP

Get your copy of the WAAAM App at the iTunes store today! Download a Piece of the Past!

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WAAAM History - Photos - Stories - Info

   

Volunteer Opportunities

Many volunteer opportunities are available.  Here is a partial list of how you can get involved.

WAAAM Volunteers are awesome!

  • Museum Docents
  • Event Planning and Coordination
  • Library Services
  • Volunteer Services Representative
  • Marketing & Promotion
  • Restoration and Maintenance
  • Gift Shop
  • Administrative Support
  • Maintenance & Custodial
  • Training & Education

Find out more on our volunteer page.

   

Memberships & Sponsorships

Members enjoy special benifits.

There are four levels of membership available to individuals and families.

  • Solo Membership: $50.00 – One Individual Membership
  • Family Membership: $100.00 – 2 adults and children/grandchildren 18 years old and under.
  • Membership +1: $120.00 – One individual membership plus one guest.
  • Membership +2: $150.00 – Two individual memberships plus 2 guests.

Call (541) 308-1600 for information on Business Memberships.

   

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Antique Airplanes   •  Antique Automobiles

Where Oregon and Washington meet, at the Columbia River Gorge.

It's worth the trip!