North of Aero Tanker hangar

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Crews began work lifting sections of a new arched roof into place for Erickson Aero Air's new aircraft collection facility on Dec. 19. The 64,000-square-foot facility will eventually house a collection of about 30 war planes, currently housed at the Tillamook Air Museum.After the August groundbreaking for a new aircraft collection facility at the Madras Municipal Airport, construction has been steadily moving forward.

The 64,000-square-foot facility, which will be located directly north of the 44,000-square-foot Erickson Aero Tanker facility, is being built by the Erickson Group to store Aero Tanker's MD-87s for its firefighting operation, as well as aircraft from the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum.

Two weeks ago, the metal-framed arch for the building's roof was lifted into place, and this week, construction manager Kenny Rice, of CS Construction, expects to install shed roofs "and then we'll put the siding on and the roofing."

When it's completed sometime in May, the facility will house 20-22 aircraft, according to Glen Newton, airtanker operations manager for Erickson Aero Tanker.

The aircraft, part of Jack Erickson's collection of aircraft dating back to World War II, currently displayed at the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum, will be moved to Madras in the spring.

"They'll probably start moving the warbirds over in the March-April timeframe, if the weather holds out and they can get the building complete," said Newton, noting that there are 24 flyable aircraft and six that are static.

Rice, who has a crew of about 10 people working on the project, anticipates starting to put siding on the building in February, and completing the facility in May.

The second phase of the project will be to build out the facility for the museum attraction, which will include airplanes, Jeeps, a tank, and memorabilia from World War II through the Vietnam and Korean wars.

Steele Associates Architects, of Bend, designed the facility.

Erickson and Kevin McCullough, co-owners of Erickson Aero Air, of Hillsboro, and Aero Tanker, of Madras, are working on an agreement with the city of Madras to construct a grass runway at the Madras airport to give the aircraft a safe place to land.

"They're still working on the details of the grass runway," said Newton. "Mainly it's for the warbirds; it lessens the stress on the tires, wheels and landing gear."

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