Preview – Visit – Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
At Home in the Clouds
With a Firearms Collection, an Aerospace Exhibit, and the Original Spruce Goose, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum preserves Our Aeronautic History, While Honoring Our Veterans
Throughout history there have been a handful of men and women who have refused to be constrained by the pull of gravity. What often begins as a child pondering how birds can soar high above the treetops develops into a pioneer flying through the clouds, then space. Someone once said, “To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.” Thanks to the vision of the late Captain Michael King Smith and his father, Delford Smith, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum brings the beasts that fill the sky back down to solid ground.
Tucked comfortably in the middle of Pacific Northwest wine country, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and Captain Michael King Smith Educational Institute are just over 3 miles southeast of McMinnville, Oregon. An all-ages experience with a mission to inspire and educate, as well as promote and preserve aviation and space history, Evergreen is home to more than 150 historic aircraft and exhibits. Get up close and personal with the SR-71 Blackbird, explore the Titan II Missile from inside her silo, and get a firsthand glimpse from the interior of a fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Howard Hughes’ aviation icon, the Spruce Goose.
World’s Biggest Plane
Designated H-4 by Hughes (not only did he despise the nickname Spruce Goose, but the Flying Boat was constructed of mostly birch), it’s the largest airplane ever built — yet it flew only once. What she lacked in airtime, she made up for in pure ingenuity. Hughes’ expertise was highly sought after during World War II, and all the while his “Wooden Wonder” remained flight-ready, but out of the public eye.
After Hughes’ death in 1976, she was set to be dismantled, a relic of aviation history, but it seemed that just wasn’t how her story was to end. She spent several years on display in Long Beach, California, and in 1992 the Smiths saw to it that the Spruce Goose was given a proper and permanent home. It took nearly 10 years to disassemble, move, and reassemble, but it was well worth the wait, as the Spruce Goose and her impressive 320-foot wingspan is now the centerpiece of Evergreen’s Museum.
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