Magazine article Sunset

Oakland's Fledgling Air Museum

Magazine article Sunset

Oakland's Fledgling Air Museum

Article excerpt

THE GOLDEN AGE OF AVIATION had a brief flowering at Oakland's North Field. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew in to dedicate the field, and Amelia Earhart launched several flights, including her last, tragic voyage, in 1937. It's fitting, then, that the Western Aerospace Museum is taking shape here, near Oakland International Airport.

This fledgling, volunteer-run museum opened in 1989 in a former Boeing hangar. It's the first of its kind in the Bay Area, and growing fast, boasting 10 planes (1920s to 1950s), aviation artifacts, and exhibits.

You'll view such rarities as a 1932 Penguin, a 24-foot-long pilot trainer. Buffs will enjoy seeing old but pristine engines, including a twin of the one that powered Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis; nearby sits a huge torpedo bomber of the type President Bush flew in World War II. Fittingly, there is also an L-10 Electra, the same 1935 plane model that Earhart piloted on her last flight.

One exhibit is devoted to General James Doolittle and his famous World War II raid on Tokyo. Others look at early airliners, the roles of women in aviation and space, the "river rat" jet pilots of Vietnam, and more. …

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