Olympic Flight Museum

Home of Living Aviation History

If you’re looking for a great and intimate aviation museum experience then the Olympic Flight Museum in Olympia, Washington is a great choice. While I recommend the bigger places as well, you should still make the trip to Olympic, as it offers a significant local segment of wartime aviation history. Considerably smaller than Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinville, Oregon, or the famous Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle (two of the author’s favorite places) Olympic gives you no less of an exciting experience to relive aviation history. Best of all, it is a “flying museum,” meaning all of their planes actually fly (well, most of them). Any one of their premium stock could be on loan for an air show or to another museum, so they’re not always all there, but usually it’s just one in absence, in my experience, and it doesn’t detract from your experience at the museum. Besides, it’s such a cool place they’ll actually charge you less admission if a plane is out on loan! The entrance fee is so minimal, anyway, it’s not an issue. But that gives you an idea of how down to earth and honest they are, and it’s always a pleasure to visit.

Premium Aircraft Stock

The museum has several premium WWII fighter aircraft including a replica A6M Zero (made for the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora”), a North American P-51 Mustang, and a GoodYear FG-1D Corsair, to name a few. In addition, there are all kinds of genuine personal artifacts and memorabilia spanning several decades from World War II to Vietnam and beyond. This latter aspect is something you don’t necessarily get to see in quantity at the bigger museums, although I did read the personal diary of a combat aviator at Boeing yesterday. Pretty cool, to read someone’s daily accounts of their combat experiences from that era. Olympic has a sizable collection of more local artifacts and documents that make it more specialized in that respect.

Olympic Flight Museum is only 10 minutes away down Old Highway 99, so it’s great for adding to my aviation photography for which I’m working on a serious project collection. Currently, I’m focusing on the Golden Era of Aviation, specifically World War II combat aircraft up to what I consider to be the end of that era, the development and introduction of the Boeing 747, one of the largest jet airliners ever built. They have the original prototype used for testing and certification at the outdoor pavilion at the Boeing Museon of Flight, and it is absolutely massive. To see the passenger area without all the seats, occupied instead by an array of testing equipment, is an interesting sight.

A Focus on World War II Aircraft

But my focus is on WWII era aircraft right now, and so the museum’s Corsair, Mustang and Zero are always a reason for me to visit again. The images posted here from my recent visit are exploratory in working towards a more developed and refined level of artistry.

My intent with photographing these aircraft is to make images that go beyond typical “airplane photos” and show you, the viewer, something you haven’t seen before.

Olympic Flight Museum has airshows several times a year so be sure to stop by, see their amazing collection, support them with a purchase in their store, and pick up their publications and calendar. You’re sure to enjoy it!

Author: jamestcallahan

James T. Callahan is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Hillsborough, New Jersey. His specializations are in product, industrial and architecture. His fine art work takes a poetic look at the American Landscape through 19th Century architecture, historic and abandoned railroads and the American Small Town. You can see his work on his website at www.jamestcallahanphotographer.com, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/jamestcallahan/.

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