Oregon’s Air and Space Museum

Today finds us in Hillsboro on a long weekend visit to Ed & Christine and their three girls.

Leaves are changing here and the Pacific Northwest rainforest is keeping everything else wet and green.

We’re on our way to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum, about an hour’s drive out of Portland through little farming communities dotted with wineries, farm-to-table restaurants and coffee shops.

McMinnville was home to Evergreen International Aviation, a worldwide freight and shipping firm founded by Del Smith in the 1960s.  Over the decades they flew all shapes and sizes of cargo jets, including 747s, and their love of all things aviation shows through in the air and space collection they have assembled here in the Oregon countryside.

Yes, that’s a real 747 they popped onto the top of one of the four buildings on their campus.  This one they converted into a giant water slide, so you can bring your swimsuits to this museum and spend rhe afternoon in their Waterpark.

Four huge buildings house the best range of aircraft and space technology I’ve ever seen.  

WWI, WWII, early jets, modern fighters, a Titan II ICBM, lunar lander, and the world’s only Spruce Goose… the gigantic eight-engined amphibious plane designed by Howard Hughes for a WWII government contract.  This plane used to be hangered in California, but lost its lease and local support, so the Evergreen team built a custom hanger and brought the plane piecemeal to Oregon and reassembled it as part of the permanent collection.  It’s hard to get a photo… the plane is huge, with at least twenty other aircraft on display under its wings.

How about a Titan II ICBM from the Cold War?  They’ve got one, complete with the control room and the maintance carts to service this rocket.  It all looks so 1950s, in that unique military green,  but the rocket looks sinister.  Thankfully, they’ve been decomissioned, some were used to launch satellites, the rest dismantled,  save for the historical silo in Tucson.

It was a great day trip, and we’ll be visiting again.

We’d been watching the weather as a typhoon has reached rhe Oregon coast less than 60 miles to the west.  The winds reached gale force there, and started whipping through Hillsboro late Saturday and into Sunday, so we were happy to find our flight remained on time.  A quick coffee at the airport and we find ourselves homeward bound after a great weekend.


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