Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The PBY Memorial Foundation Naval History Center in Oak Harbor

South of Anacortes on Whidbey Island is the town of Oak Harbor, so we took a look down there to see what we might find. Of course, Rick wanted to check out the harbor area and we were surprised to find a active Naval Air Station base. Plus, there was a sign for a naval museum! All Right!

We pulled up to the guard gate and was directed to the museum site, which was easy to find by this PBY Catalina aircraft outside. Rick, naturally, was delighted with this turn of events!

 We went in and were delighted to be offered a full guided tour by a couple of retired Navy personnel. We learned that the museum was dedicated to the PBY aircraft and crew. In fact, that was why the Naval Station was built in early WWII.

 This was one of the main training and operational bases of the amphibian craft on the Pacific Coast. Aircraft from this base ended up throughout the Pacific as well as on the Aleutian Islands.

 The museum has a number of interesting artifacts dealing with the PBY as well as aircraft in general.

 Rick and Orinda really enjoyed the exhibits and the interesting tour by a guide that knew all about the items and was happy to share his knowledge.

 One of the most interesting artifacts is this PBY-5 aircraft which the museum volunteers are restoring from a visual point of view (as opposed to flying condition).

 When the tour guide asked Rick if he would like to take through the inside of the plane, Rick was delighted! When was the last time he has had an offer to tour the inside of a WWII era aircraft?

 COOL! Rick is one happy camper here. Sitting in the pilot's seat of this aircraft was a great expereince and really helped us understand what these aircraft crew must have gone through during 16 hour missions!

 Here are the engine controls that are located above the pilot's seat along with the flap and other controls. The PBY was a very versatile plane and was widely used for reconnaissance, torpedo bombing, and regular bombing.

 Here Rick is trying his hand at flying the PBY (at least in his mind!). We noticed that there was no insulation, or other crew comforts and that this plane was all business. It was easy to imagine a large number of these planes assigned to the Naval Base during WWII.

Before we went to the museum, we saw this huge boat ramp and Rick mentioned that this was the biggest boat ramp he had ever seen. Turns out that this was used by the PBY aircraft -- no wonder it was so big!

 While we were looking at the ramp, we saw this bald eagle sitting on a piling searching for his next meal or just taking it easy. What a beautiful sight this was.

On the way back to Anacortes, we passed over the Deception Pass. Named by George Vancouver in 1792 as deceiving him into thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula and not an island. Today, the island is connected by this 976' bridge, completed in 1935. This is a beautiful area to visit and the museum was really icing on the cake and well worth the visit!

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