You don’t have to put the entire airplane into a museum to make it fun for visitors. Sometimes, just the cockpit will do—especially when it is open for the public to sit in. The Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon has six cockpits for visitation—the latest one to join the fleet is a B-52G Stratofortress. The welcome ceremony will be held on April 1, 2023.
History of the B-52G
The Museum’s B-52G Stratofortress was built in Wichita, Kansas, and delivered to the United States Air Force on September 23, 1960, to be part of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command.
In 1963 the aircraft was transferred to the Air Force’s 397th Bombardment Wing at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine. According to Christian Gurling, the Curator of the Tillamook Air Museum, in 1964 the city of Bangor was given honorary ownership of the airplane and the bomber was christened The City of Bangor by Sheryllee Kay Jones, who held the title of Miss Bangor, having won a beauty contest that was a precursor to the Miss America pageant. A bottle of champagne was ceremoniously broken on the nose of the airplane.
The former pageant winner, now Sherry Lowe, will be traveling to Oregon to help the museum re-christen the airplane as Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead.
The airplane has had many names and many missions over the years, both in the U.S. and overseas. Among the most notable, in 1972, the B-52 took part in Operation Bullet Shot and Operation Linebacker II over North Vietnam.
In 1991 the museum’s B-52 was part of the first Gulf War.
“Along the way, the airplane was also given several more names,” says Gurling. “In addition to City of Bangor, the aircraft was called Soiee, Armed & Ready/Make My Day, Heavy Metal, and Boodrow.”
In November 12, 1991, the airplane was retired to the Aircraft Storage & Disposition Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, colloquially known as “the boneyard.” Per the disarmament treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the aircraft was cut into five pieces. The cockpit was obtained by the now-defunct Southern Utah Aviation Museum with a plan to restore it. When the museum closed, the cockpit was sold to Doug Scroggins of Scroggins Aviation Mockup & Effects, a company that supplies Hollywood with aviation mockups for movies.
A series of small misfortunes followed. According to Gurling, “After Scroggins Aviation took possession of the piece, the cockpit was vandalized with spray paint. To remove the spray paint, the airplane was power washed, which unfortunately ruined the airplane’s paint job.”
Scroggins Aviation subsequently loaned the B-52 to the Tillamook Air Museum. The cockpit has been under restoration since September 2021. It will be restored to the configuration and colors it wore during the first Gulf War.
Additional Cockpits on Display
The museum takes great pride in its collection of cockpit trainers which are on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
“All the instruments are there, everything is complete,” notes Gurling. “Since we have had them at the museum people have been allowed inside them.”
The trainers are located on a runway display and represent a Corsair, A4 Skyhawk, and Sky Warrior.