Pearson Air Museum

Kaiser Shipyards Exhibit Opens at Pearson Air Museum

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and the Clark County Historical Museum announce the opening of a free new exhibit about the extraordinary history of Vancouver’s Kaiser Shipyard. The exhibit will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. in Vancouver, in the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve.

The exhibit will include historic objects—archaeological artifacts recovered from the site, which workers used on a daily basis—as well as reproductions of historic photos and documents in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection. A model of the USS Gambier Bay, one of the “baby flat tops” built in the Vancouver Yard (and the only U.S. Navy carrier sunk by enemy surface vessels) will also be on display.

Also premiering is a 13-minute-long documentary produced by Clark/Vancouver Television, which chronicles the history and legacy of the shipyards through interviews with former shipyard workers and local historians, along with photographs and film archives. The video will be shown in the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, and will be available for viewing on request in the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.

Kaiser Shipyards Exhibit Opens at Pearson Air Museum

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and the Clark County Historical Museum announce the opening of a free new exhibit about the extraordinary history of Vancouver’s Kaiser Shipyard. The exhibit will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. in Vancouver, in the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve.

The exhibit will include historic objects—archaeological artifacts recovered from the site, which workers used on a daily basis—as well as reproductions of historic photos and documents in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection. A model of the USS Gambier Bay, one of the “baby flat tops” built in the Vancouver Yard (and the only U.S. Navy carrier sunk by enemy surface vessels) will also be on display.

Also premiering is a 13-minute-long documentary produced by Clark/Vancouver Television, which chronicles the history and legacy of the shipyards through interviews with former shipyard workers and local historians, along with photographs and film archives. The video will be shown in the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, and will be available for viewing on request in the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.

About the shipyards:

When the United States entered World War II, the Allies were in need of ships…fast! The US Maritime Commission hired several contractors to construct the ships needed to win the war. Among them was Henry J. Kaiser, a bold American entrepreneur. That spring, he built three yards in the Portland-Vancouver area.

At the 400-acre Vancouver Yard on the Columbia River waterfront, construction moved at a rapid pace, operating around the clock and setting production records. By war’s end, the Vancouver Yard had launched 10 Liberty Ships, 30 landing craft, 50 escort carriers, 31 attack transports, 12 C-4 troopships, and 8 C-4 cargo vessels.

The shipyards offered new employment opportunities to those in the local area, many of whom had never worked before, and recruited people from other parts of the United States. Kaiser’s endeavor transformed Vancouver almost overnight. The city’s population tripled and diversified, new neighborhoods and support services were built to meet their needs, and new technologies revolutionized local businesses.

Fort Vancouver, Pearson Air Museum & Visitor Center Open during Fourth of July Celebration

The National Park Service welcomes you to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site to celebrate Independence Day! Due to the Independence Day celebration, visitors’ cars will not be permitted to enter or park in the park on Tuesday, July 4. However, all park facilities, including the Visitor Center, the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, and Pearson Air Museum, will be open to pedestrian access after visitors enter through one of the three security checked gates.

The park facilities will be open later than usual, with both Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum operating from noon until 8 p.m. and the park’s Visitor Center and Bookstore open from noon to 5 p.m. The Friends of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will also be operating a sales tent area on E. 5th St. from noon to 8 p.m., adjacent to the main entry path to the fort. The usual fees will apply to enter the fort ($5 for adults, children 15 and under are free), while there is no fee to enter the Visitor Center or Pearson Air Museum.

National Park Service staff and volunteers will be dressed in period costumes throughout the reconstructed fort to help bring the site to life and present the lifeways of the 19th century fur trade. The Visitor Center and Pearson Air Museum will have exhibits and films available for viewing as well. Visitors can take a flight in a vintage 1930 bi-plane which will be operating from the taxiway adjacent to Pearson Air Museum. The operator, Nostalgic Warbird & Biplane Rides, piloted by Mike Carpentiero, will be operating throughout the day. For more information on the costs of bi-plane rides, visit nostalgicwarbirdrides.com or call 512-203-2341.

For more information about Independence Day at Fort Vancouver, produced by the Fort Vancouver National Trust, visit 4th.fortvan.org.

Fort Vancouver, Visitor Center & Pearson Air Museum Open on July 4

The National Park Service welcomes you to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site to celebrate Independence Day! Due to the Independence Day celebration, visitors’ cars will not be permitted to enter or park in the park on Tuesday, July 4. However, all park facilities, including the Visitor Center, the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, and Pearson Air Museum, will be open to pedestrian access after visitors enter through one of the three security checked gates.

The park facilities will be open later than usual, with both Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum operating from noon until 8 p.m. and the park’s Visitor Center and Bookstore open from noon to 5 p.m. The Friends of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will also be operating a sales tent area on E. 5th St. from noon to 8 p.m., adjacent to the main entry path to the fort. The usual fees will apply to enter the fort ($5 for adults, children 15 and under are free), while there is no fee to enter the Visitor Center or Pearson Air Museum.

National Park Service staff and volunteers will be dressed in period costumes throughout the reconstructed fort to help bring the site to life and present the lifeways of the 19th century fur trade. The Visitor Center and Pearson Air Museum will have exhibits and films available for viewing as well. Visitors can take a flight in a vintage 1930 bi-plane which will be operating from the taxiway adjacent to Pearson Air Museum. The operator, Nostalgic Warbird & Biplane Rides, piloted by Mike Carpentiero, will be operating throughout the day. For more information on the costs of bi-plane rides, visit nostalgicwarbirdrides.com or call 512-203-2341.

For more information about Independence Day at Fort Vancouver, produced by the Fort Vancouver National Trust, visit 4th.fortvan.org.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver. For more photos and updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/FortVancouver/.

Open House at Pearson Air Museum: See a Replica 1912 Biplane

Come to the Pearson Air Museum at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to view the construction progress on a 1912 Curtiss Pusher airplane replica. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the methods and materials used to recreate this historic aircraft, and talk with National Park Service volunteers and staff about the project.

Over the past year, a skilled crew of National Park Service volunteers have been building a full size replica of Silas Christofferson’s 1912 Curtiss Pusher, utilizing copies of original Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company plans, period articles on airplane construction, and photographs of Christofferson’s 1912 airplane. Christofferson’s Pusher was used on demonstration flights from the Vancouver Barracks Polo Grounds in 1912, and was famously flown off the roof of Portland’s Multnomah Hotel in June 1912 to land at Vancouver Barracks. Materials identical to those used in the construction of the original aircraft—such as Sitka spruce, bamboo, steel tubes, and cotton fabric—are being utilized, along with some period construction techniques. Though the airplane will include an original engine—a Curtiss OX-5 V-8 block—there are no plans to fly the airplane, and it will be a static display.

Pearson Air Museum is located at 405 E. 5th St. in Vancouver. The gate will be open near the northeastern corner of the building. Signs will direct visitors to the parking lot. There’s no admission charge to view the plane.

Open House at Pearson: See a Replica 1912 Biplane

Come to the Pearson Air Museum at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to view the construction progress on a 1912 Curtiss Pusher airplane replica. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the methods and materials used to recreate this historic aircraft, and talk with National Park Service volunteers and staff about the project.

Over the past year, a skilled crew of National Park Service volunteers have been building a full size replica of Silas Christofferson’s 1912 Curtiss Pusher, utilizing copies of original Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company plans, period articles on airplane construction, and photographs of Christofferson’s 1912 airplane. Christofferson’s Pusher was used on demonstration flights from the Vancouver Barracks Polo Grounds in 1912, and was famously flown off the roof of Portland’s Multnomah Hotel in June 1912 to land at Vancouver Barracks. Materials identical to those used in the construction of the original aircraft—such as Sitka spruce, bamboo, steel tubes, and cotton fabric—are being utilized, along with some period construction techniques. Though the airplane will include an original engine—a Curtiss OX-5 V-8 block—there are no plans to fly the airplane, and it will be a static display.

Pearson Air Museum is located at 405 E. 5th St. in Vancouver. The gate will be open near the northeastern corner of the building. Signs will direct visitors to the parking lot. There’s no admission charge to view the plane.

Operation Pillow Talk

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has teamed up with Operation Pillow Talk, a local community project to help lift the morale of active military service members. This project is in its fifth year of designing, sewing, or dyeing pillowcases for deployed military personnel. Over the course of 2016, community residents, sewing clubs, Girl Scout troops, senior living centers, elementary school teachers and students have contributed to this project.

The resulting pillowcases will be shipped to troops around the world in time for the holidays. Before they are shipped, they will be displayed inside Pearson Air Museum’s historic hangar on Nov. 4 and 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through the generosity of local businesses, organizations, and individuals, this year’s event will provide an area for visitors to decorate a pillowcase and write a note of encouragement to slip inside. On Saturday, Nov. 5, folk music and storytelling will also be provided throughout the day. All are encouraged to attend this free event before or after the Veteran’s Day Parade, which starts at 11 am.

The staff at the State of Washington Community Services Office and Home and Community Services started Operation Pillow Talk in 2012. These staffers continue to coordinate and volunteer their time in support of this project. Operation Pillow Talk’s pre-shipment display of pillowcases has taken place at Pearson Air Museum—part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, located at 1115 E Fifth St. in Vancouver—since last year. This new location has made it possible to open up the project to the entire community, and to allow more people to participate and decorate pillowcases.

Operation Pillow Talk

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has teamed up with Operation Pillow Talk, a local community project to help lift the morale of active military service members. This project is in its fifth year of designing, sewing, or dyeing pillowcases for deployed military personnel. Over the course of 2016, community residents, sewing clubs, Girl Scout troops, senior living centers, elementary school teachers and students have contributed to this project.

The resulting pillowcases will be shipped to troops around the world in time for the holidays. Before they are shipped, they will be displayed inside Pearson Air Museum’s historic hangar on Nov. 4 and 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through the generosity of local businesses, organizations, and individuals, this year’s event will provide an area for visitors to decorate a pillowcase and write a note of encouragement to slip inside. On Saturday, Nov. 5, folk music and storytelling will also be provided throughout the day. All are encouraged to attend this free event before or after the Veteran’s Day Parade, which starts at 11 am.

The staff at the State of Washington Community Services Office and Home and Community Services started Operation Pillow Talk in 2012. These staffers continue to coordinate and volunteer their time in support of this project. Operation Pillow Talk’s pre-shipment display of pillowcases has taken place at Pearson Air Museum—part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, located at 1115 E Fifth St. in Vancouver—since last year. This new location has made it possible to open up the project to the entire community, and to allow more people to participate and decorate pillowcases.

Valery Chkalov: Red Bolt from the Blue

Join the National Park Service, representatives from the Russian Consulate in Seattle, and our partners at Pearson Air Museum at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, for a special program celebrating the 79th anniversary of Valery Chkalov’s landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia, to Pearson Field, and its significance to our community. The Pearson Air Museum is located 1115 E. Fifth St. in Vancouver, not far from the reconstructed Fort Vancouver. There is no fee to attend and no RSVP necessary.

The program will include music, brief remarks, and the opening of a new exhibit celebrating the flight, “A Red Bolt from the Blue.” The exhibit was created by historian and writer Mary Rose, designer Rachel Thai, artist Toma Villa, and National Park Service Curators Theresa Langford and Meagan Huff. The exhibit includes artifacts and historic photographs from the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection, as well as documents recently sent to the park from the archives of Russia’s Office of the Foreign Ministry.

Valery Chkalov: from Moscow to Pearson

Join the National Park Service and aviation enthusiasts at Pearson Air Museum at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 20, for a special program celebrating the 78th anniversary of Valery Chkalov’s landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia, to Pearson Field.

The program includes a talk, vignette, and music. Mary Kline Rose, formerly of the Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee and presently with the Friends of Fort Vancouver, a nonprofit support group for Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, will give a presentation about this landmark flight. A twenty-piece group from the Vancouver Community Concert Band will provide music from the era.

“Valery Chkalov: from Moscow to Pearson” is free an open to the public. The Pearson Air Museum is located at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site at 1115 E. 5th St. in Vancouver.

 Above photograph: Valery Chkalov and his airplane.

Aviation Lecture Series at Pearson Air Museum

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site—in cooperation with the Oregon L5 Society (a chapter of the National Space Society)—is pleased to announce an exciting aviation-themed lecture series at the Pearson Air Museum and Jack Murdock Aviation Center. The lecture series, “Imaginings of Flight: the Past, Present, and Future of Aviation,” will be given on seven consecutive Thursday evenings in February and March and will feature the following speakers and topics:

  • Feb. 5: Robert Cromwell, Ph.D., National Park Service, “The Spruce Production Division’s Vancouver Cut Up Mill and the Contribution to the Air War in World War I”
  •  Feb. 12: Dick Pugh, Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory, Portland State University, “The Meteorite Petting Zoo” (Pugh will bring meteorites for up close viewing, and encourages attendees to bring suspected meteorites for verification)
  • Feb. 19: Charles Radley, Oregon L5 Society, “Mining the Moon With a Lunar Elevator”
  • Feb. 26: Diana DeLuca, Ph.D. “NA 337, The Commonwealth Air Crews and the Evolution of the Handley Page Halifax Bomber”
  • March 5: Dan Dolan, Moon Base Builders, “Back to the Moon With the Lunar Rover Mission”
  • March 12: Dr. Cameron Smith, Portland State University, “Designs on Personal Space Exploration” (Smith is designing and building his own space craft and space suit, which he will bring for show-and-tell)
  • March 19: Matthew Simek, M.A. “Lincoln Beachey: the Man Who Owned the Sky”

The series will be held at the Tex Rankin Theater inside the Pearson Air Museum, 1501 E. 5th St. Each lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., and lasts approximately one hour. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Public Archaeology Speaker Series: 100th Anniversary of WWI

The National Park Service (NPS) is featuring many archaeology-themed programs as part of a “Summer of Archaeology” at one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier archaeological sites: our own Fort Vancouver! The Public Archaeology Speaker Series features talks on history, archaeology, and our Pacific Northwest heritage. At 5:30 p.m. on July 24, a special program at Pearson Air Museum will commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I with family activities, tours, costumed interpreters, and live World War I-era music. At 7 p.m., historian Dr. Gerald Williams will speak about the Spruce Mill at Vancouver Barracks. All talks are free to the public, held at the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum. For a full schedule, visit http://go.usa.gov/8fwW.

The Moscow-Vancouver Connection

If you sometimes get a fierce craving for a bowl of borscht, you may be experiencing The Moscow-Vancouver Connection—a link that was made nearly 80 years ago, when Valery Chkalov completed his historic flight from Moscow to Pearson Air Field, now a part of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. To commemorate this achievement—the world’s first non-stop transpolar flight—you’re invited to join the National Park Service for a special program, “Valery Chkalov: from Moscow to Pearson Field,” to be held at the Pearson Air Museum at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 21.

The family-friendly program will include a talk, vignette, and music, along with artifacts on display from the historic flight. A twenty-piece group from the Vancouver Community Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. Jim Rourk, will provide music from the era. The talk will be presented by Luda Leksunkin, a bilingual Russian-American park guide with the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. For more details, click here.

Onward and Upward at Pearson Air Museum

What's free and flies (sort of)? Nope, not a bird. It's our local treasure, the Pearson Air Museum, which is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday with no admission charge. Last year, over 15,000 visitors enjoyed the museum—not including those attending special events, which are held in the museum's large, empty south hangar. The National Park Service, which now operates the musuem, works with many volunteers and partners to ensure that the aviation history embodied by Pearson Air Museum is here for future generations to explore.

The museum will have a new, full-time manager beginning in July, and park guides and additional volunteer docents will enliven the museum for visitors with guided tours and interactive programs. The national park's team of museum specialists is redesigning and enhancing exhibits in the museum, as well as acquiring new exhibits. Interpretive programs developed last year will be continued, along with new educational opportunities.

If you're interested in holding an event at Pearson Air Museum, visit http://go.usa.gov/kTC4 or contact Park Guide Eva Dodd at 360-816-6241.