Located in Sagle, Idaho, the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center showcases the historic achievements of early aviators and innovators who laid the groundwork for modern technology, particularly in relation to aviation. Visitors to the museum will find superbly restored and displayed aircraft from the private collection belonging to the cente’s founder, Dr. Forrest Bird, as well as a range of other aviation-related items, along with inventions within the medical field.
The aircraft collection includes a 1968 Bell 47 (G3B-2) which, with its bulbous cockpit allowing superb visibility, is an excellent search and rescue helicopter. The 1977 Bell IFR212 helicopter in the collection has been used extensively by Dr Bird in his aeromedical research and has been soundproofed to the extent that a stethoscope can be used while in flight. The collection contains two 1938 Piper J3C-65s – one on Edo straight floats and the other on wheels, with the latter being Dr Bird’s father’s airplane. The Piper on floats spends the summer on Lake Pend Orielle, with the winter months spent suspended from the ceiling in a helicopter hangar for the public to view.
A 1967 Alon A-2 has been completely restored with extra fuel capacity and folding wings being added at the time. The airplane can be transported by trailer with the wings folded, and be ready for flight within a few minutes of being unloaded. Other airplanes in the collection include a 1980 Cessna TU206G; a 1947 Republic RC-7 “Sea Bee”; a North American AT-6; a De Havilland DHC-1B-2-S5; a 1940 Boeing B75N1 Stearman; a 1927 WACO model GXE-10; and a 1939 Beech Aircraft Company model F-17-D “Staggerwing”.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame pays homage to innovative designers whose inventions have contributed to the welfare of their fellow human beings, with Dr Forrest M Bird being among these for his design of a fluid control device, respirator, and a pediatric ventilator credited with reducing respiratory-related infant mortality rates ten-fold.
The Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center is open during the summer months Mondays to Saturdays between 8 am and 4 pm and on Mondays to Fridays during the winter. Entrance is free of charge and there is a gift shop and café for refreshments.