Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum – McMinnville, Oregon

September 2015

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum has been a place I have wanted to visit for more years than I can remember, for one single reason – the Spruce Goose. Anyone with any interest in aviation knows about the Spruce Goose and since I kinda-sorta like planes and things, there was no way I was going to be in the area and not stop by this particular museum.

There are three buildings at the museum – the original aviation museum (opened in 2001), the theater (opened in 2007) and the space museum (opened in 2008). There is also a waterpark next door that has one of the Evergreen International Aviation 747’s on top of it.

Camping

Stopping at the Evergreen Museum was really a no-brainer, even if the Goose wasn’t to be seen. For the princely sum of zero, nada, nothing, free, you can spend the night in the back parking lot. Which helps cover the cost of museum admission. Sounds like a win-win to me!

It’s a parking lot, so it isn’t glamorous. The night I stayed I was the only RV there, so once the museum closed, I had the place to myself. I walked around the grounds at night, looking into the lit galleries and enjoyed the peacefulness of the grounds. Highly recommended overnight stop if you are in the area. Just make sure you actually go in to see the Spruce Goose!

Spruce Goose

The Spruce Goose was Howard Hughes’ answer to the US Government’s call for a large aircraft capable of flying troops and supplies overseas during World War II. Initial development contract was signed in 1942, but the aircraft didn’t make its one and only flight until 1947 in Long Beach (CA) harbor.

Though called the Spruce Goose, the airplane is constructed mainly of birch. I guess Birch Goose doesn’t have the same ring to it? Whatever it’s made of, this is a massive plane! At over 218 feet long and with a wingspan in excess of 320 feet, it is an imposing structure that dwarfs all other aircraft in the aviation museum building.

B-17G Tour

For a nominal extra fee I was able to tour the B-17G that the museum has on display. The B-17 was the primary heavy bomber used by the US Army Air Corps in the European theater during World War II. While almost 13,000 were built, there aren’t a whole lot left. I have always wanted to go inside one, so I jumped at the opportunity. Next goal is to take a ride in one.

Aviation Museum

The original building of the Evergreen Museum has the Spruce Goose as the centerpiece, but is filled with all sorts of other nifty aircraft. Here are some:

Space Museum

A second building was built to house the space collection, as well as other non-space aircraft, including the helicopter collection. Evergreen International Aviation (which is where the initial money for the museum came from) started life as Evergreen Helicopters, so it makes sense that there would be some rotary wing aircraft on display.

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