Terry Brandt, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum founder, can tell anyone the finest details about any of the craft on display this weekend at the 2019 Hood River Fly-In.
At the Hood River Airport on Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of airplanes are expected to arrive from across the country to visit this event, joining WAAAM’s collection for the year’s largest celebration of aviation in the Gorge.
“Last year was very successful,” Brandt said. “This year we expect a good turnout of aircraft for our theme this year, ‘Salute to Military Aircraft,’ including Steermen, Warbirds, liaison airplanes, anything used by the military.”
Brandt said WAAAM will roll out recently-restored airplanes and numerous cars on display.
Speaking of the military theme, Brandt pointed out the brief but glorious history of one plane that WAAAM acquired a year ago: A World War I Sopwith — an example of a plane that did its part in the battles over France, but then fell out favor.
Brandt explained that American World War I allied pilots learned to fly in a Curtis Jenny and transitioned in England to a Sopwith.
“It has a rotaty engine where the entire engine rotates, not just the propellers, all the cylinders are turning,” Brandt said, demonstrating by turning the Sopwith propeller.
The plane was added just over a year ago and the display features a miniature model of the engine that you can spin to see the gyroscopic effect.
“This was a very successful engine for World War I because it produced twice the horsepower for its weight of any other airplane. This acts like a centrifugal supercharger, slings twice as much fuel and air out into the cylinders so they could outclimb the Germans. Once they got above them, then they had the advantage, and could dive on them with excessive speed.
“But because of the spinning mass, they were a miserable thing to fly. When you pulled the nose up, they darted to the right. Push the nose down and they darted to the left. You try to go to the right, the nose went up, try to go to the left, the nose went down. This engine was a handful to fly and this engine’s design was essentially abandoned after World War I because no one wanted to fly them. But they were extremely successful as a fighter because they could outclimb the enemy.
“The downside was the gyroscopic effect and the longevity wasn’t great: They lasted three to 30 hours, but for the war effort, they didn’t care that much because most planes didn’t last longer than that. That’s why they were never successfully used for civilian use.”
Admission to the Fly-In fundraiser includes entrance to the museum, activities and access to the event grounds. Biplane and airplane rides from TacAero are available for purchase.
There will be food all day, both days from local restaurants, including the Hood River Eye Openers Lions Club serving a pancake breakfast in the morning.
Other activities include WAAAM’s Airplane Restoration Shop open house, pilot seminars, book signings and a presentation about the World War II Navajo Code Talkers at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Fly-in hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is a reduced rate of $12 for adults and seniors, $6 for youth ages 5-18 and active duty military personnel.
Information about the Fly-In and the museum is available at the museum website waaamuseum.org or by calling 541-308-1600.
Brandt noted that WAAAM is a non-profit that accepts no public funding, and all salaries and operational costs depend on admission-based income. Under WAAAM bylaws, donations can only be used for assets: New acquisitions and buildings.