Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Monday September 2nd 2019

The holiday weekend came to an end today. There were mass departures from the campground this morning. It is only about half full tonight. To me it was just another Monday not the end of summer or a special holiday.

I drove north about fifty miles through farm land, orchards and vineyards to McMinnville Oregon today. The objective was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The museum has a large collection of aircraft and space artifacts. Perhaps its most famous aircraft is Howard Hughes plywood behemoth the “Spruce Goose”. Developed during World War II and the years following as a flying boat, it only made one short little test flight. It was intended as a super transport plane that could use the worlds oceans as its runways. With the war over and aircraft range increasing the flying boat was never put into production.

The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum has four main buildings. A building dedicated to aviation, one dedicated to space, a theater and a separate water park building with an airliner on the roof. Additional aircraft are parked on the grounds around the buildings, but there aren’t any paths or roads to get close to them. The Aviation building is dominated by the huge “Spruce Goose”. Other aircraft and replicas are scattered around the perimeter of the building and under the big plane’s wings. The space building is about half full of space exhibits with most of the remaining space used for other aircraft. They had hoped to have one of the retired Space Shuttles in the area currently used for aircraft, but the Evergreen museum was not one of the selected sites.

Most of the aircraft museums I visit on my travels are hosted by military bases. This is a private organization. It has more replica aircraft and non military aircraft on display than I’m used to seeing. The overall flow of both the aviation and space museums is chronological which I like, but cramming all the aircraft in around the big Hughes H-4 makes it very hard to see some of the exhibits. It is clear that lovers of all things aviation are behind the curation of the museum. There are many standalone engine, prop, turbo fan blades and other significant elements of the aircraft on display complete with extensive discussion of there properties.

I’m glad I visited the museum, but other than the “Spruce Goose” I didn’t see anything that stood out. Someone that hasn’t been to all the other museums I’ve visited would be more impressed with the museums extensive collection. I’ve seen versions of the military aircraft before and I didn’t get a sense of any specific importance of some of the civilian aircraft on display.

The space museum was very well done, but similar to the Aviation museum, I’ve see most of the exhibits before. For example, the mockup of a Titan II missile and control room was great, but I visited an actual Titan II missile silo at the Titan II museum south of Tuscon Arizona. My biggest take away from the space museum is I’m getting old. A trio of twenty somethings were studying a mock-up of a space walk from a Gemini Space capsule. I overheard one young lady proclaim that “they did that back in the seventies before we were born”. It really happened in the mid sixties and I watched the space walk on TV. It probably happened before their parents were born.

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