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Nov 19 2017

San Martin Air Museum

By Mark Beresford | Comments 6

I’ve passed little San Martin airfield many times on my way south and heard a rumour years ago that there’s an air museum in there somewhere. Today I took a detour and found it. It was a pleasantly relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. The Wings of History Air Museum has two hangars of vintage planes and a few other planes in the yard outside.

A docent kindly gave me a personal tour (well, I was the only visitor at that point), and then I wandered around scouting for good photo ops. I only had my 135mm lens with me, so I had to be creative.

This small Beechcraft training plane was made in the year I was born.

I sat in the cockpit of the 1956 British Vickers Viscount. It was small, with switches and dials everywhere. It’s easy to see why pilots have to train a lot. If they need to react quickly, their hands have to rely on muscle memory to flip the right switches and their brains must automatically know which dials to pay attention to. I just had to deal with the dappled, low intensity light coming in through the windows. Without a tripod, I had to make some compromises.

The museum houses the only wooden propeller shop west of the Mississippi. The propellers are handmade according to the requirements of the vintage plane owners that commission them. Glue-laminated blocks of birch and maple make a strong and stable starting point from which the craftspeople mill the propeller shapes.

The propellers are balanced by glueing weights into drilled holes, and the leading edges are optionally reinforced with metal and other materials.

Shortly after it was time to leave the museum, the sun decided to put on a pretty show, giving a warm glow to the dry grassy hillsides that are common to this area. It capped off a nice, quiet afternoon pottering around a new place.

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