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Skyhawk returns to the hangar

For 25 years, an A-4B Skyhawk Navy Jet was a wayfinder sign for the Tillamook Air Museum.

Displayed alongside Highway 101, and popularly referred to by locals as “plane on a stick,” it pointed the way to the WWII blimp hangar.


The Tillamook Air Museum’s A-4 Skyhawk was accepted by the United States Navy on Oct. 21, 1958 where it served with several Navy squadrons through the years. On May 16, 1964, the A-4, then stationed at Naval Air Station Los Alamitos in California, was involved in a mid-air collision with another aircraft. Being retired, the A-4 went on display at the U.S.S. Intrepid Museum in New York City before being loaned to the Tillamook Air Museum in December 1997.

Photo courtesy of Tillamook Air Museum

In August 1998, the A-4 was set atop a stanchion adjacent to Highway 101 as a "gate guard."


However, the jet, was not intended to be displayed outside.


“The Navy said they needed to have a scope of work for maintaining it or really just take it down,” Tillamook Air Museum Director  Rita Welch said. “The conversation began about how it was going to be painted, taken down, or what would it look like to replace it. But, everybody wanted a monument left.”

Through a partnership with Tillamook Bay Community College’s welding program, a student-built metal blimp structure replaced the A-4 in September 2022.


After the A-4 was removed from its stand near the highway, it was brought back to the Tillamook Air Museum.


“The Navy does not want to take it back; they just want us to properly display it,” Welch said.


A scope of restoration work received approval from the Navy including: sandblasting, dent repair, and repainting; with addition plans to create a static display inside the Tillamook Air Museum.


Welch detailed that several local businesses contributed restoration efforts to the A-4. Blue Coast Eco-Blasting managed to remove nearly seven layers of paint. William Wallace Welding built and installed the display stand, and Burden's Towing assisted with their crane through the process of welding the frame to the A-4. 


All in all, Welch reported roughly 202 hours from staff and volunteers were dedicated to restoring the A-4.


“The aircraft turned out great,” Welch said. “Everyone was really pleased around here with it, considering how rough it was—there were times of uncertainty.”

With the restoration complete, the A-4 will remain on display inside the Tillamook Air Museum.


Locals can visit the A-4 during free admission days every third Sunday of the month.


“Tillamook County residents can come check out the bird up close along with all our other exhibits,” Welch said. “I'm hoping this will gain traction in the community and we'll start seeing more local on a regular basis.”


Individuals just need to provide their ID or Tillamook County library card as proof of residency and then the entry fee will be waived.


The Tillamook Air Museum is located at 6030 Hangar Rd. Tillamook.


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