The Evergreen Aviation (and Space) Museum

We needed to get out-of-town. We thought about going to Tacoma, but events proved to make that not possible.

So, we went to McMinnville instead. Out-of-town friends had gone to McMinnville and somehow that triggered in Jer the desire to see the Spruce Goose. The Spruce Goose, a Howard Hughes production, is housed in the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum and is the largest airplane ever built (flown only once). The SG was barged from California, where it had been stored, came up the Columbia and the Willamette Rivers, through Willamette Falls, and finally, in very large pieces, got to McMinnville, where it was reassembled and became the prime artifact in what is now a large museum complex.

It took me half-an-hour to find the Spruce Goose in the aircraft museum. There are three other buildings in the complex: the space museum, an omnimax theater, and a water park. We only made it to the aircraft museum, where I kept looking for the SG.

I found, instead, this:

As this is one of perhaps 50 aircraft within the main area of the aircraft museum, it doesn’t get a lot of attention. But my father worked at Piper Aircraft from 1936 through about 1972, and may have welded one of the pieces on this little critter, so I found it charming.

That half hour that it took me to find the Spruce Goose?

See the big silver bit above the yellow piper cub? That is part of the tail assembly of the Spruce Goose. It is so big, it hovers over every other aircraft, including WWII bombers. I couldn’t find it because it was too big.

We are glad we went to see the Spruce Goose: it’s an Oregon site-to-visit. We probably won’t go again, unless visitors need to see it. We don’t know many engineers, pilots, nor WWII aficionados, so probably we won’t go back.

But McMinnville is always charming. We stayed in the very best room in the McMenamin’s Oregon Hotel, a corner room with windows on two sides and an en suite bathroom; we ate at Nick’s Italian Cafe, about which I can only say we will return and return and return. And we took a side tour through the coast range on back roads through the Siuslaw National Forest to Hebo, got ice cream in Tillamook, and returned home through the pouring rain, happy to have gotten out-of-town and to have returned. –June

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5 Responses to The Evergreen Aviation (and Space) Museum

  1. Kathy Hodge says:

    I can strangely relate to this post. My parents lived in Tacoma right after they were married and my father was in the army. And he loved planes and especially the piper cub. He built a radio control model with about 3 foot wingspan. I bought him a yellow piper cub enamel pin, and I wore it at his funeral. I’m glad to hear of another who is reminded of their dad when they see the cheery little plane.

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  2. revab says:

    That’s a perfect trip. Should you ever manage to get out of town again, check out the Tillamook Air Museum (assuming you haven’t already been). It’s a whole ‘nother thing. The building itself is an all-wood wartime blimp hangar, worth the trip even if it weren’t filled with interesting aircraft, which it is.

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  3. joanell connolly says:

    sounds like a wonderful field trip. We are headed your way in May and again in Oct. – hope our paths cross and thank you for the field trip to see planes. We saw the Spruce Goose while it was on display, under a dome, next to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Nice to know it has a good home.

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  4. Lia says:

    Awww…. makes me homesick for all things Oregon. We took a similar trip just before we moved away, and it included many of the same elements: Tillamook ice cream, airplanes (at the Tillamook Air museum), and rain. Glad you guys got out and had a nice trip!

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  5. jan2bratt says:

    So why didn’t you stop in Birkenfeld on your way home? Notwithstanding the fact that we are a 40 minute detour off the main highway, I’ll forgive you this time. I have been to McMinnville many times but never have I stopped in at the museum. Not yet anyway.

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