‘Honoring Our History’ WWI exhibit lands at Pearson

Air museum will host traveling, 80-foot-long showcase Saturday

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



If you go

What: “Honoring our History” World War I exhibit.

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1111 E. Fifth St.

Cost: Free.

Did you know?

The largest donation of artifacts to the National World War I Museum included 27 machine guns from eight countries. And that was just a small part of the 1,700-item donation. All the artifacts — including ammunition boxes, tools, photographs, uniforms and manuals — were related to machine guns.

For about 20 years, it was just the World War.

No need for numerals or sequences because it was the only war of that scale in history.

A traveling exhibit will offer some insights on that conflict during an appearance Saturday in Vancouver.

The “Honoring Our History” tour will stop at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.

Pearson’s ties to World War I make this exhibit a great fit, said Laureano Mier, manager and education programs coordinator at the air museum.

Not only does Pearson’s collection represent World War I-era aircraft, but during the war, the area now managed by the Fort Vancouver National Site had the world’s largest spruce mill. The wood, logged from Northwest forests, was used to build airplanes for the war effort.

The 80-foot-long mobile exhibit was put together by curators at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

The gallery features more than 60 artifacts, including weapons, tools, equipment and uniforms that reflect state-of-the-art warfare almost a century ago.

The exhibit also includes posters and flags, interactive features, videos and audio tracks.

Visitors will have a chance to sample the feature that came to define the 1914-1918 conflict: trench warfare. The gallery includes a walk-through trench that simulates the tight conditions of combat environments during the Great War.

Pearson will supplement the national exhibit with some local displays, Mier said. The museum has a reproduction of a World War I German Fokker Dr.1 triplane.

Oregon airplane collector Patrick Garrison will provide another replica of a Fokker Dr.1 three-wing airplane. The plane was used in filming of “The Blue Max,” a 1966 movie about aerial combat in the war, Mier said.

Pearson Air Museum also will have an “open cockpit” day, featuring its vintage T-28 Trojan and Ryan PT-21 aircraft. Visitors also will be able to try out Pearson’s flight simulator lab.

Special guest will be former Marine Master Sgt. P.E. “Gunny” Brandon, an Oregon resident and author whose military career inspired the character played by Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Ridge,” Mier said.

The 75-city, year-long “Honoring our History” tour is supported by Waddell & Reed, a financial planning company founded by World War I veterans.

After leaving Vancouver, the tour is scheduled to stop at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Oct. 15.

Pearson Air Museum is waiving admission fees Saturday, although donations will be accepted. Any money donated will be divided equally between Pearson Air Museum and the National World War I Museum.