By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

The skies around Jefferson County will be a bit more active than usual over the next few weeks, as a collection of vintage warplanes moves from the Tillamook Air Museum to their new home at the Madras Airport.

The museum announced plans to relocate to Central Oregon last year, as part of a larger move by Erickson Group Ltd., the company that owns the bulk of the WWII-era planes displayed in Tillamook. A new Erickson venture retrofitting commercial jets to serve as firefighting air tankers, Erickson Aero Tanker settled on Madras as its base of operations, and company founder Jack Erickson opted to relocate the museum as well.

Mike Oliver, general manager of the Tillamook Air Museum and future manager of the museum in Madras, said seven planes have made the journey over the mountains already. If weather conditions hold, plans call for flying most of the rest to Madras before the end of the month, starting Sunday.

All but two of the 25 planes in Erickson’s collection are airworthy, Oliver said.

A new, 65,000-square-foot hangar that will house the planes at the Madras Airport is nearly complete, Oliver said. For now, planes including a B-17 Flying Fortress, an AD-4W Skyraider and an F4U-7 Corsair, are parked in the 44,000-square-foot hangar built in 2010 to spur new investment and activity at the airport.

The museum has not set an opening date, Oliver said, but it’s likely to be sometime after the Airshow of the Cascades on Aug. 22-23.

A handful of Erickson-owned planes, including the B-17 and a P-51 Mustang, were featured at last year’s air show. This year, Oliver said the entire Erickson collection should be on display, and the B-17 will be sporting a new look.