Written by Hanna Brandt/Museum Intern
Though some have said that flying in an Oldfield Baby Great Lakes makes a pilot look like a “giraffe in a roller-skate,” the capabilities of this tiny plane are undeniable. Designed in the mid-1950s after the larger Great Lakes 2T-1, this aircraft is a homebuilt; meaning that pilots and air enthusiasts purchase plans and kits from which to construct the plane. While the Baby Great Lakes is used for aerobatics and recreational flying, its speed is unmatched by most World War II fighters! Airborne after 5 seconds, the plane climbs at a rate of 2,000 feet per minute, making it a speedy aircraft, despite its small, awkward appearance.
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s Oldfield Baby Great Lakes was donated by Earl Thorp in 1999. He describes the airplane as “good but a little quick.”
Artifact Pick of the Week: Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King
The Sikorsky Sea King was developed for the U.S. Navy and was utilized for its ability to track and destroy submarines. With a folding tail and rotor blades, the Sea King could operate from destroyers and aircraft carriers to protect a fleet. It also featured a “dipping” sonar to listen for submarines or torpedoes. The helicopter’s hull was akin to that of a boat, meaning that it could float on water. This function proved helpful for search and rescue work. Sea Kings also transported astronauts after spaceflights in the 1960s and 70s and served the President of the United States as Marine One.
The Sea King located in the Evergreen Space Museum served the U.S. Navy. It is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
Artifact Pick of the Week: Learjet 24
Written By: Hanna Brandt / Museum Intern
Ever dream of flying in luxury? Perhaps in a jet? If you have, the image that probably comes to mind is that of the ubiquitous Learjet. Created by entrepreneur Bill Lear, the Learjet 23 premiered in 1963, thus ushering in a new age of civil aviation. Private jets were expensive, exclusive, and moreover became a lasting symbol of affluence and taste. When designing the aircraft, Bill Lear based much of its design on that of a Swiss fighter jet. Lear attached the fighter’s wing to a sleeker fuselage, creating a plane that could transport business executives with unmatched speed. In 1966, the Learjet 24 premiered. Featuring a cabin pressurization system and more powerful engines, this jet could fly higher and faster than its predecessor.
The Learjet 24 featured at the Evergreen Aviation Museum was donated by Bruce Leven in 2007.
Written By: Stewart Bailey / Museum Curator
McDonnell F-101A Voodoo – A supersonic fighter originally designed to escort bombers. The first Voodoo, the XF-88, was McDonnell’s first attempt at a supersonic aircraft. The Air Force felt that it was underpowered and lacked in performance and asked McDonnell to “go back to the drawing board” and re-work the design with more powerful engines. The result was the F-101A. Because of the work done with the XF-88, there was never a prototype for the F-101; they just started rolling off the assembly line.
Our aircraft was the first F-101 built and went straight from the factory to the Air Force test facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It first flew on September 29, 1954. After several years of testing, it was loaned to General Electric to use as a test bed for the J-79 engine. It was later returned to the Air Force and spent the rest of its operational life at Edwards. When the Air Force was done with it, it was transferred to Shepard AFB, Texas where it was used for the training of Air Force mechanics. Finally, after being declared obsolete, it passed on to a civilian aviation mechanics school. That school went out of business and the airplane was purchased as scrap by Dennis Kelsey of Lind, Washington. Mr. Kelsey set out to restore the plane and placed it with the Pueblo-WeisbrodAirMuseum in Pueblo, Colorado. In 2009, Mr. Kelsey’s widow Janice, decided to move the aircraft to Evergreen in order to bring it back “closer to home” and to see that it got the proper attention, as it had begun to deteriorate badly during its outdoor display in Colorado.
The F-101A was restored by the restoration team of Dave and Richard Martinez at the EvergreenMuseum restoration facility in Marana, AZ, before moving the aircraft to McMinnville this past summer. It was reassembled and painted here. As per Mrs. Kelsey’s request, it is being restored to the markings it wore when it was on loan to General Electric for the J-79 test project.
The restoration of the aircraft is not complete, as Mrs. Kelsey has more parts of it in her barn in Lind. The Evergreen restoration folks will be going up there in the near future to pick up the parts and put them on the aircraft. The hope is to eventually restore the cockpit, which is currently a gutted shell. In addition, there are a number of markings for the aircraft which are not finished either. We will continue to work on the aircraft until completion, and are excited for our guests to learn about this new artifact!