Museum Honors Local Aviation Pioneer
Yakima Valley Business Times
By Ed Rieckelman
Walking through the McAllister Museum of Aviation entrance is akin to stepping through a time portal. One immediately realizes what a treasure it is to have it in Yakima.
The museum showcases 55 individual displays, seven aircraft engines, two McAllister aircraft for visitors to enjoy and over 10,000 aviation items.
The McAllister Museum opened in 1999 after the passing of Charles McAllister, a Yakima aviation pioneer and the owner of McAllister Flying Service.
“Charlie had hoped to find someone to take over the flying service business, but that didn’t happen,” said long-time McAllister secretary Roberta Dell. “So, he left an endowment hoping it would become a museum.”
The museum is in the McAllister Flying Service’s original hangar, which provided all aviation services to aviators until the building of the Yakima airport. Its mission is to be the leading preservationist and educator of aviation history in Central Washington.
Described as the Wright Brothers of local aviation, Charlie and his brother, Alister, acquired and rebuilt their first airplane in 1925. In 1926 they took flying lessons from the famous instructor and aerobatic pilot Tex Rankin. Shortly afterward, they started their first flight school in Yakima. Alister would later turn to full-time farming and Charlie kept on with the flying service.
Museum board members and volunteers Don Rasmussen (left), Carl Farnsworth and Secretary Roberta Dell welcome visitors to the McAllister Museum of Aviation.
McAllister family with Charlie’s first plane. Courtesy McAllister Museum of Aviation.
One of the more fascinating items at the museum is out front, near the gift shop, is Charlie’s original pilot license, signed by Orville Wright.
“It was number 6,812 and was issued on November 11, 1927,” said Don Rasmussen, board member, pilot and long-time volunteer at the museum.
The museum is staffed by volunteers and supported through a McAllister endowment, donations, fuel sales and the museum’s rental for special events.
“With the Cub Crafters plant right next door, we are able to generate revenue through fuel sales to them,” Rasmussen said. “Also, we offer tie-down spaces outside for a monthly fee.”
With help from state senator Jim Honeyford, the museum was recently able to build an adjoining hanger to display two of their museum planes and to add meeting space and offices. The Civil Air Patrol shares the hanger.
Admission to the museum is free (donations accepted). Guided group tours are $2 per person.
“We encourage teachers to bring their students,” Rasmussen said. “This is a great place for a field trip.”
If the folks at McAllister Museum had one wish, it would be recognition.
“For some reason, people forget that this museum is here,” Rasmussen said.
The museum, located at 2008 S. 16th Avenue, is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Scheduled docent-guided tours are available. Call (509) 457-4933 for more information.