An immaculately restored Ryan PT-22 Recruit has just joined the Tillamook Air Museum following a move from its former home at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. Ryan Aeronautical constructed this aircraft at their factory in San Diego, California, completing its manufacture on May 29th, 1941. The aircraft joined the U.S. Army Air Forces as serial number 41-1936 on July 12th, 1941. It served in the primary training role at various locations in the United States during WWII. While it’s immediate post-war history is presently unknown, the aircraft did join the U.S. civil register as N48778 on Jun 18th, 1956, a registration it has retained ever since. The aircraft’s airworthiness certificate was cancelled in mid-July, 2013, just a few months after it went on display at the Pearson Air Museum, which is situated at Pearson Field, one of the oldest continuously operated airports in the United States.

Disassembling the PT-22 at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. (photo via Tillamook Air Museum)
Disassembling the PT-22 at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. (photo via Tillamook Air Museum)
Disassembling the PT-22 at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. (photo via Tillamook Air Museum)

The Historic Trust, which runs the Pearson Field Education Centre, amongst other cultural heritage sites in Vancouver, Washington, is revamping the centre for its reopening in the new year. As part of the renovations, the PT-22 became surplus to the Trusts needs, and this prompted its recent donation to the Tillamook Air Museum. Located at former Naval Air Station Tillamook, in Tillamook, Oregon, this museum is situated within a gigantic wooden hangar which once housed up to eight U.S. Navy K-Class blimps.

The PT-22 on a low-loader soon after its arrival at the Tillamook Air Museum following the journey from its previous home at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington. (photo via Tillamook Air Museum)

Remarking on the donation, Tillamook Air Museum’s curator, Christian Gurling, noted: “We are thrilled that our visitors will have the opportunity to see such an iconic training aircraft of the 1940’s, an aircraft that helped pilots hone their aviation skills, allowing them to prepare to meet the threat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan head-on!”

The PT-22 on display at the Tillamook Air Museum. The hangar is so massive (more than 1,000 feet long and almost 200 feet high) that it has its own localized climate. To minimize heating costs, and to keep the aircraft dry, the museum keeps its more vulnerable exhibits in a smaller, tent-like structure within the hangar, as seen here. (photo via Tillamook Air Museum)

Tillamook’s hangar is historic in its own right, as described by the museum below…


In 1942, the U.S. Navy began construction of 17 wooden hangars to house the K-class blimps being used for anti-submarine coast patrol and convoy escort. Two of these hangars were built at the Naval Air Station Tilllamook, commissioned in December 1942 to serve the Oregon-Washington coastal area. Construction of the two hangars was rushed to completion. Hangar “B” was the first one built and was completed in August of 1943. Hangar “A” which was destroyed in a 1992 fire, was completed in only 27 days. Amazingly, there were no serious injuries or deaths on the whole project. Stationed at NAS Tillamook was Squadron ZP-33 with a complement of eight K-ships. The K-ships were 252 feet long and filled with 425,000 cu. ft. of helium. With a range of 2,000 miles and an ability to stay aloft for three days, they were well suited for coast patrol and convoy escort. Naval Air Station Tillamook was decommissioned in 1948.
The diminutive appearance of the otherwise massive Aero Spacelines Super Guppy displayed in front of the Tillamook Air Museum’s facility should provide some sense of the former U.S. Navy blimp hangar’s enormity. (image via Tillamook Air Museum)