By Mikael Krummel

The twin air hangars stand a few hundred meters south of the Mahlon Sweet Airport control tower, both building exteriors relatively indistinguishable from the other uninspired structures surrounding them. And yet, the special exhibits showcased inside the twin hangars are nearly as fascinating and inspiring as flight itself. 

Welcome to OASM, the Oregon Air and Space Museum. Co-managers Dale Locksberg and Art Emmons have overseen the nonprofit public museum for more than three decades. “I look at this place as a classroom,” says Locksberg, a licensed pilot and aviation educator. “And if you look at the history of general aviation,” adds Emmons, “we speak loudly to that.”

Visitors can enjoy rows of 5/8-scale replicas of air vehicles in stunning condition. There are also piston and jet engines on close-up display, and authentic, full-sized planes parked across the hangar floors and suspended from the hangar ceilings. You can view a Russian, Vietnam-era MiG-17 jet fighter, an open-cockpit helicopter, an early design Mitchell B-10 Ultralight, an experimental Taylor Bullet powered by a VW engine, and a French-built Newport-17 fighter flown by World War I Allied Forces.

The museum also features many other oddities. Like the prized collection of more than 1,000 miniature-scale aircraft models reflecting the wide reach of aviation history. Or exhibits heralding the accomplishments of distinguished military pilots — many with Oregon roots. Or the display extolling the contributions of 250 American Eagle volunteer pilots who served as WWII mercenaries in the Royal Canadian Air Force prior to Pearl Harbor. Or showcases celebrating global space exploration, lunar landings, and space station research. History, education, and artifacts are all flying together on public display.

Since its establishment in 1991, OASM has pursued its educational mission through public outreach, community education, and local schools. The museum has entertained homeschooled and Lane Community College students, summer camp participants, and many other varied tour groups. OASM managers also lay proud claim to having educated visitors including astronauts, famous athletes, and movie stars. 

“When visitors walk through our door, we are pretty certain about at least one thing,” says Emmons proudly. “They have an interest in aviation.”