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Oregon: Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Located near to the small Oregon town of McMinnville is the excellent Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. I discovered this place a few years back and have been fortunate to visit on a couple of occasions. It is one of those places that really exceeded my expectations – I had not expected to find such an excellent collection of aircraft and space vessels in a relatively remote place (it is a good hour or so from Portland, Oregon).

First envisioned by Capt. Michael King Smith, son of Evergreen International Aviation founder Delford Smith, the Evergreen Museum opened in 1991 with a small collection of vintage aircraft in a hangar at company headquarters.

In March 1990, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would close the Long Beach, California, exhibit of the Spruce Goose. This aircraft, formally known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the prototype. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminium and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the Spruce Goose, although it was made almost entirely of birch. The Spruce Goose is the largest flying boat ever built, and it had the largest wingspan of any aircraft that had ever flown until the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch first flew on April 13, 2019.

In March 1990, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would close the Long Beach, California, exhibit of the Spruce Goose. The Aeroclub of Southern California began looking for a new home for the historic aircraft. In 1992, the Evergreen Museum won the bid with a proposal to build a museum around the aircraft and feature it as a central exhibit. The disassembly of the aircraft began in August 1992 and the parts were carefully transported to the Evergreen Museum. The last piece was put into place on December 7, 2001. It worth visiting this museum to see this aircraft alone – its scale and the feat of engineering in its construction is an amazing testament to human creativity.

Since the arrival of the Spruce Goose, the museum has grown, with an IMAX theatre opening in 2007, and a second exhibit hall focusing on the Titan II ICBM and space technology opened in 2008.

The collection of aircraft across the eras of man’s earliest endeavours in flight to modern-day aircraft is truly amazing. Having been to several aerospace museums across the US, including the Museum of Flight in Seattle and the Smithsonian this museum is up there with the best. Beyond the aircraft, on display, there are some interesting exhibits of aerospace artworks and a fascinating collection of flight attendant uniforms across the years.

Northrop F-5E Tiger II The F-5
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny (Canuck) 1917 Replica
Beechcraft D-17A Traveler (Staggerwing)
Messerschmitt Me 262
The Spruce Goose dominates the display area inside the hanger
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum A
Sea King lifting Apollo Command Module

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In Summary …

  • The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum was an unexpected surprise – the quality of the exhibits is amazing 
  • Seeing the Spruce Goose was worth the entry ticket price alone!
  • If you are travelling as a family think about staying in the area and enjoying the adjacent waterpark.

Planning your trip

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