Expected to open in August

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Side doors for the Erickson Aircraft Collection Facility will likely be installed in the next week.The completion of an enormous new hangar at the Madras Municipal Airport is now about six weeks out.

The 64,000-square-foot Erickson Aircraft Collection Facility, designed to accommodate at least 25 aircraft, is expected to be finished in mid-May, according to Mike Oliver, general manager of the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum.

When the hangar — designed by Steele Associates Architects and being built by CS Construction, both of Bend — is completed, Oliver anticipates that they will begin to move over Jack Erickson's collection of World War II era aircraft.

"We'll probably start flying some airplanes over about that time," said Oliver, who plans to relocate to Madras, along with his assistant manager, to prepare for the local museum's opening, tentatively scheduled for August, to coincide with the Airshow of the Cascades.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - A backhoe blocks the unfinished road in front of the new Erickson Aircraft Collection Facility at the Madras Municipal Airport. The building is expected to be completed in May.The aircraft are currently housed in a drafty 325,000-square-foot World War II blimp hangar in Tillamook, but the company's lease expires in December 2016, and they have been looking to move for the past few years.

In Tillamook, the museum has about 70,000 visitors per year, but he doesn't yet know what to expect at the Madras location.

"I hope there's a lot," he said, noting that there's considerable traffic on U.S. Highway 97 that passes through Madras. "It's hard to figure those numbers out."

Erickson's collection includes airplanes, Jeeps, a tank, and a lot of memorabilia from World War II through the Vietnam and Korean wars. Among the aircraft are a pre-World War II Bellanca Aircruiser, an Aero L-29 jet from the Vietnam era, a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a Boeing B-17 bomber, a Grumman J2F Duck, and a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43, which was named "Oscar."

"There's only ours and another flying in the world," said Oliver, a pilot, who has been regularly flying to Madras to keep track of the progress of the facility.

Oliver said he "can't wait" to move to Madras with his family. "The weather is great and the people are nice," he said. "I'm tired of the rain. You guys get nine inches of rain (a year); we get 90 or 100."

Since all the aircraft are all in working condition, he's eager to relocate to a drier climate where the aircraft can be flown, and the dry weather will help preserve them.

"We probably get six months of sunshine," he said. "It's either raining or overcast."

This week, the contractor is working on the giant doors for the west side of the metal building. The 120-by-32-foot center door is flanked by two 80-by-23 foot doors.

Inside, the plumber is installing gas pipe for heating, and the electrician is running conduit for the lighting and heating circuits. The facility will have an office, mechanical and electrical rooms, and public bathrooms.

According to Kenny Rice, site superintendent for CS Construction, the snow and cold snap in February set them back a couple weeks. "I'm still hoping to be out the middle of May," he added.

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