My son Marshall is TOTALLY into airplanes right now. I’m not sure why exactly — but I have a feeling that it has something to do with having his grandparents come for a visit recently and picking them up at the airport – then soon after actually flying ourselves to a family reunion. Whatever the reason, he is all about playing with, reading about, and flying airplanes. So when we were invited to come and check out about the Open Cockpit Day at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver – we were all over it!
As we approached the museum, we saw antique aircraft parked outside the museum “hangar” for visitors to see – as well as planes taking off from Pearson Air Field, the oldest operating airfield in the US. It was very cool that they were offering free flights to youth from ages 8 to 17. We entered the museum, and were greeted by an amazing history of flight. Although we didn’t take a lot of time to read through the history, it is clear that the museum was developed from a passion for aviation and is dedicated to providing an interactive experience for visitors of all ages. Their information is presented in a graphic and engaging format, and they have planes of all sizes hanging from the ceiling, a helicopter the little ones can “drive”, and a “launcher” for visitors to practice landing a jet on an air carrier.
After we had explored the inside a bit, we wandered outside to see the antique planes on display. We were excited to have the opportunity not only to see the planes, but to also climb into the cockpit and “fly” them! We were able to sit in two full-sized planes, as well as a smaller plane that was just Marshall’s size. He was able to reach the foot pedals and enjoyed watching cause and effect as he operated the wing flaps. With a little help from a friend he even got to pretend he was flying a “propeller” plane. As we climbed up for our turn to pilot the full-size planes, Marshall’s eyes were wide with excitement. He really enjoyed using the controls, and checking out the gauges and instruments. A very helpful young man (who told us that he had been a participant in their Aviation Summer Camp) explained what each of the different instruments did and meant, and how we could move the flaps on the wings and tail.
We ended our visit with a stop in the bookstore – filled with books, movies, models, toys and gifts. Marshall picked out a grey bi-plane with a silver propeller that he hasn’t been let out of his sight since we got it.
We very much enjoyed our visit to the Pearson Air Museum. We are excited to check out their upcoming events, like their toddler storytime (the first Saturday of every month at 10:00 am) as well as Santa in the cockpit for the holidays!
About Pearson Air Museum: Located on the Fort Vancouver National Site and managed by the Fort Vancouver National Trust, Pearson Air Museum tells the story of Pearson Field, one of the oldest airfields in the United States. Museum visitors experience the early years of aviation – a world of wild barnstormers, experimental aircraft and dogfighting aces.
PDX Kids Calendar was given free passes to attend this event.