Air-Minded: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

We spent a weekend in Portland, Oregon and while there I visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in nearby McMinnville. The Evergreen museum is the current home of the Hughes H-4 Hercules, better known as the Spruce Goose.

Hughes H-4 Hercules

I’ll say this about the Spruce Goose: it has presence. When you stand under it, or indeed anywhere near it, it overwhelms. Those eight Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radials, any one of which is large enough to propel a locomotive, seem wholly inadequate to the task of getting this beast airborne … and yet they did. Was I impressed? Two words: God almighty.

Evergreen consists of three large, well-lit buildings: one display hangar housing the Spruce Goose and a collection of civil and military aircraft generally dating from the early days of aviation to the 1950s; a second hangar containing space artifacts, helicopters, and modern jet fighters; and a large theater. Everything is sparkling clean, modern, and inviting, and the display hangars have mezzanine levels where visitors can look down on the aircraft, a feature I love and wish we had more of at my own air museum. The docents (ahem) were presentable and knowledgeable.

I can only speculate on who keeps this operation afloat and how deep his pockets must be. I know the museum went into bankruptcy not long ago and was bailed out by a savior or saviors, and for that we should be thankful. Maintenance and cleaning alone must be a major part of the budget, never mind aircraft and exhibit acquisition.

Almost all of Evergreen’s collection is displayed indoors, with about a dozen aircraft on the grass outside. Probably the biggest headache at the Pima Air & Space Museum (where I am a presentable and knowledgeable docent) is that more than half our aircraft are outdoors, unprotected from sun and weather, and show it. This is not generally a problem at smaller museums like Evergreen.

Here are a few thumbnail photos from my visit. Click on them to view full-size originals on Flickr. Click here to see all 107 photos in my Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum album on Flickr.

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© 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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