USA 2012


Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Delford M. Smith, who formed the Evergreen Group, was born in McMinnville. The company now operates a fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft around the globe. A large new complex for the museum was constructed across the road from the airport and opened on 06Jun2011.
The centrepiece of the display is the unique and gigantic Hughes H-4 'Spruce Goose', but the remainder of the collection is nothing to sneeze at: reaching from early aviation days until recent Vietnam War era jet fighters, including the remarkable Lockheed Blackbird superjet.
Unfortunately, when Evergreen went belly up this effected the museum too and several planes from the collection were sold in the ensuing years; updates at botttom page.


Evergreen museum McMinnville
Outside the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, near the road, this Lockheed SP-2E Neptune N202EV seems to 'skim' the field in a (very) low pass one more time...
C/n 426-5383 is ex/ BuNo.131502 and is displayed in Evergreen's air tanker colours and Tanker no. 141.
Reg'd 23Oct15 for Premier Jets Inc, Oregon. Facebook march 2020: 'Previously owned by Evergreen Aviation.
Sitting and rotting away at the Evergreen museum. Museum no longer owns the plane and the new owner pretty
much abandoned it. She needs a lot of TLC.'

Evergreen museum McMinnville
The best seats in the house..?

Evergreen museum McMinnville
Ford 5-AT-B N9645 went through many identities in its career:
NC9645, XH-... (unident), AN-AAS, XA-FUB, XB-NET, N58996.

Evergreen museum McMinnville
The Ford Tri-Motor was once part of the Harrah Collection in Nevada before moving to Silverwood,ID.

I found the Ford 5-AT-B N9645 for sale (and perhaps even sold - asking price 1.750.000) on the website of Courtesy Aircraft Sales by Feb.2014. The advertisement included a bounty of historic details on NC9645, copied thus:

Aircraft totally restored in 1970 by Harrahs Auto Collection in Reno, NV - Pratt & Whitney R-985 engines, 411 Hours since Major Overhaul by Midvalley Aircraft.

It was actually the design of William B Stout, founder of the Stout All Metal Airplane Company. During the early 1920s, Stout designed and built several single-engine, thick wing, all metal monoplanes.
Henry Ford, impressed with these aircraft, purchased five of these single-engine airplanes and started a freight service between Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.
When Stout designated his airplane and powered it with three Wright Whirlwind 300 HP engines. Model 3-AT, Ford bought him out and announced that he would carry passengers as well as the mail. The first flight of the Tri-motor was concluded on June 11, 1926, and by the end of production in 1933, over 200 aircraft had been built.
There were a total of 5 different variants produced: 3-AT, 4-AT, 5-AT, 6-AT and the 7-AT. During their career they have been flown more than one 100 operators, 21 airplanes purchased by the United States government for dispersement to the Army and Navy military services to be used as personnel transports.
The 'Tin Goose', as it was affectionately known, was the airplane which was first flown over the South Pole by Admiral Byrd in 1929.
The 'Tin Goose' was also the airplane which started transcontinental passenger service in the United States and is the airplane, most historians agree, that started modern air travel!

History of NC9645
Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-B, Registration NC9645, was certified on December 1, 1928 and was delivered to Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) on January 18, 1929.
Named the 'City of Wichita', this airplane was used on the first transcontinental passenger service which has flown between San Diego and New York.
On April 6, 1931, the airplane became TWA No. 6008 for Trans Western Airlines. In July of 1935, the airplane was sold to TACA Airlines in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, which operated the Ford in Central America until 1946 when it was sold to Ricardo Izurienta of Campeche Mexico.
The registration was at that time changed to XA-FUB, the XA prefix denoting commercial operations.
The Ford was next sold to Aurturo D'Argence, also of Campeche, Mexico. This sale took place in August 1950, and the registration was changed to WB-NET, the XB prefix denoting private ownership.
Beginning February 1951, the airplane was completely overhauled by Servicios Aernauticos de Mexico, S.A., located in Mexico City. During this overhaul the original corrugated airframe skins were replaced with modern sheet metal, and the airplane became known as 'the smooth skin Ford'.
In July 1954, the airplane was damaged in a landing accident and not repaired.
It was sold in May of 1955 to Frank Oergel, Burbank, CA, who then sold it as it was to Eugene Frank, Caldwell, ID. By this time, the Ford carried U.S. registration N58996.
On July 29, 1964, Harrah's Club purchased the airplane and recovered the original registration number: NC9645.
In 1986, when Harrah's museum closed, Gary Norton purchased the now restored airplane; and on February 15, 1990, the current owner bought the Ford from Norton Aero Ltd.

In July 2014 I learned this: "Liberty Aviation in Port Clinton (OH) now has this Ford Tri-Motor to add to their collection of flying aircraft."


Evergreen museum McMinnville

Evergreen museum McMinnville
DC-3A N16070 served United Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, NASA, Pioneer Airlines, Continental Airlines, Admiral Airways, Midwest Silo Corporation (Ray Corp.), then to Evergreen.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

Evergreen museum McMinnville
Douglas DC-3A-197 NC16070 (c/n 1910) is dwarfed by the humongous Hughes H-4 Hercules, commonly known as the 'Spruce Goose'.

Evergreen museum McMinnville
Curtiss-Wright CW-A22 Falcon N500G (c/n A22-1, ex/ N18067)

Evergreen museum McMinnville

Only 8 Beech D17A Staggerwings were built in the late 1930s and early 1940s. This Beech D17A NC50959 (c/n 305; ex/ NC19453, 42-49071) was the only one of this variant to be impressed into military service, designated UC-43F with serial 42-49071.

When in 1939 the US Army Air Corps needed a small communications aircraft, the excellent performance of the Model 17 resulted in the procurement of three Model D17s for evaluation under the designation YC-43. However, it was not until expansion of the USAAF began during 1941-2 that an initial production order for 27 was received, this leading to a total procurement of 207 Beech 17s under the designation UC-43, these being powered by the 336kW Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 engine. After the United States became involved in World War II, an additional 118 civil Model 17s were impressed for military service, and comprising D17R, D17S, F17D, E17B, C17R, D17A, C17B, B17R, C17L, and D17W variants under the respective designations of UC-43A, UC-43B, UC-43C, UC-43D, UC-43E, UC-43F, UC-43G, UC-43H, UC-43J and UC-43K.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

Must admit I have a soft spot for this type: the Republic RC-3 Seabee. On display here N6481K c/n 736.

The RC-3 Seabee was designed by Percival Hopkins 'Spence' Spencer, an aviation pioneer who built his first hang glider in April 1911. At the time he was 17 years old and constructed it from plans he found in a "Popular Mechanics" magazine... In 1937 he joined Sikorsky engineer Vincent A. Larsen to design their first, and only, amphibious aircraft, the Spencer-Larsen SL-12C.

In Dec. 1941 Spencer joined the war effort as a test pilot for the Republic Aircraft Corporation.
In order to meet the anticipated postwar demand for civilian light aircraft, Republic endeavored to build the Seabee as inexpensively possible, while still retaining reasonable performance and range. In March 1946 the first production RC-3 Seabee was completed (NC87457, formerly NX87457), and on 25Jul46 the first Seabee (NC87463, production no.13) was delivered at the Republic factory to J.G. (Tex) Rankin of Rankin Aviation Industries of Tulare,CA.
By June 1947 the production was cut short and a respectable 1,060 Seabees had been built.
See also this website:


Evergreen museum McMinnville

A replica of Lindbergh's 'Spirit of St. Louis' is seen on display here too.

The Spirit of St. Louis (registration: N-X-211) is the custom-built, single engine, single-seat monoplane that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20-21, 1927, on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.
Officially known as the Ryan NYP (for New York to Paris), the single engine monoplane was designed by Donald A. Hall of the aircraft manufacturer Ryan Airlines located in San Diego,CA.
More on Wikipedia:


Evergreen museum McMinnville

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the "Spruce Goose"; registration NX37602) is a prototype heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft company.
The aircraft made its first and only flight on 02Nov1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, its critics nicknamed it the 'Spruce Goose', despite it being made almost entirely of birch rather than spruce...
The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history.
The aircraft was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser, a leading Liberty ship builder. He teamed with aircraft designer Howard Hughes to create what would become the largest aircraft built at that time.
It was designed to be capable of carrying 750 (!) fully equipped troops or one M4 Sherman tank.
The original designation 'HK-1' reflected the Hughes and Kaiser collaboration.
[Wikipedia, for more:]

The following was copied from Classic-Propliners (Yahoo) forum (Jan.2014), a one time employee 'Mark' offered the following information:
"I worked at Hughes Aircraft in the 1970s & 80s; we were asked not to refer to it as the Spruce Goose while Howard Hughes was alive...
It was kept in a climate controlled floating hanger at great expense!
When Hughes died, the care of the aircraft was immediately cut way back: no more air conditioning and many other care taking expenses were cut.
The aircraft was donated by the Summa Corp (which owned it) to the Aero Club of Southern California which displayed it in a huge dome in Long beach for many years.
Later it was sold to the Evergreen Museum in Oregon. It was deemed impractical to do a ferry flight and the aircraft was barged to Oregon in very large pieces all wrapped tightly in white plastic film.
I happened to be commercial fishing off the San Francisco coast when the tug and tow passed by carrying the wrapped aircraft. The fuselage was basically in one piece and the wings were removed and stowed alongside. The spares for the aircraft dispersed to various organizations."

UPDATE July 2015:
" PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The legendary 'Spruce Goose', a gigantic historic wooden airplane whose fate was mired in a financial dispute, will permanently stay in Oregon.
The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum has reached an agreement with the Aero Club of Southern California to take full ownership of the plane in the coming weeks, said California attorney Robert E. Lyon, who represents the Aero Club. Lyon said the agreement was reached in early July.
The McMinnville, Oregon-based non-profit has been home to the Spruce Goose for more than two decades, but it still owed a payment to the California club from which it bought the plane.
The details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the dispute centered on the original purchase terms, which, in addition to the $500,000 price tag, also included a percentage of the museum's earnings from displaying the Spruce Goose."
[Associated Press, 21Jul2015]


Evergreen museum McMinnville
Note the display dummy about half way, illustrating the cavernous size of the gigantic hull of this Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

The World War Two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is also on display, here B-17G N207EV (c/n 324426).
The Fortress had a varied career. During its service life it was converted for transport duties and later further modified carrying high-ranking officers. The aircraft was sold on the civilian market and was used by the CIA for some time. The B-17 was then modified for fire-fighting work and flew on these duties for over a quarter of a century!
These days the Fortress is displayed in its original military configuration.
Its USAAF serial was 44-83785 and it was also registered as N809Z during its civil use.

UPDATE: On 11aug2015 the Collings Foundation announced it had purchased this B-17G 'Shady Lady', as well as a P-38L Lightning, a Bf-109 G-10, and a 2nd P-40 Warhawk.
The Collings Foundation plans to have the Evergreen B-17 flyable by 2017!
"Based in Stow, Massachusetts, the Collings Foundation (501c3) is recognized internationally for the preservation, exhibition and operation of unique and rare historic aircraft and organizing educational living history events. The Stow museum features an incredible collection of over 75 classic automobiles, historic aircraft, tanks, military artifacts and machines."

UPDATE Aug.2017:
YouTube: Saying goodbye to Evergreen's B-17 (published 05Aug2017, by 'Planesguy').

UPDATE Nov.2017:
After some 15 years of static display and the purchase by the Collings Foundation in 2015, the B-17G left McMinnville in 2017 on Aug.15th, to join 'the Wings of Freedom'.
In an update I read that this Boeing B-17 was used by the CIA on clandestine operations, between 1954 - 1959, flying spy missions over China mainland with 4 other B-17s.
After returning to the US, it was equipped with a Fulton Skyhook, as we've seen used in James Bond's 'Thunderball'. Later again, it was modified to airtanker and served as a firefighter until it was restored to its military configuration for preservation.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

Douglas A-26C Invader N74833 (c/n 28718, ex/ 44-35439).
Delivered to French AF as 44-35439. Served in Indochina.
Returned to USAF 04Sep1954.
Registered as N74833 for JPR Corp, c/o Madden-Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami,FL 1963-1969.
Next to John M. Sliker, Wadley,GA 1970-1972.
John J. Stokes, San Marcos,TX, 1977-1979.
Lynch Air Tankers, Billings, MT, 04May1979-1990, but was not converted to tanker, instead used as spares airframe.
Restored to airworthy in 1989.
Noted wearing markings USAF/435439.
Registered to Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinville,OR, Mar1990-1992.
Flew as USAF 435439.
In 2001 withdrawn from use.

Update on Facebook/WIX july 2015: "According to the recent bankruptcy settlement, A-26B Invader #44-35439 'Margie' is to be given to World Fuel Services by Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, 'free and clear'.


Evergreen museum McMinnville

Replica of the remarkable single-seat fighter biplane Sopwith Camel. It was introduced on the Western Front in 1917.
For me this WW1 fighter will always be associated with some of the best 'Biggles' books written by W.E. Johns!


Evergreen museum McMinnville
The 3rd Curtiss Pusher (a replica) I've come across this trip!
Its claim to fame was a take off from a rooftop in Portland.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

The Lockheed SR-71 ' Blackbird' was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by the Lockheed Skunk Works.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

I count myself fortunate to have seen it fly in my days as a military plane spotter, decades ago! I remember hiding on my belly in a field at RAF Mildenhall, 'The Hall', in the UK, to catch a rare glimpse (and a photo!) of this top secret spy plane!


Evergreen museum McMinnville
Space flight is represented in this fine museum too.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

A few more planes are on display outside, mostly fighter jetplanes, but this Canadian-built Canso A (identical to a US built Consolidated PBY-5A) is of interest to me as a recent addition.
This photo shows the large parasol wing which enabled this patrol plane to remain airborne for a very long time; an endurance of over 17 hours is often quoted, but is slow going in this pig boat, hmm excuse: patrol plane.

The name Canso versus Catalina explained:
In accordance with contemporary the British practice of naming seaplanes after coastal port towns, Royal Canadian Air Force examples were named Canso, for the town of that name in Nova Scotia. The Royal Air Force used the name Catalina and the U.S. Navy adopted this name in 1942. The United States Army Air Forces, and later the United States Air Force, used the United States Army Air Forces designation OA-10.

Evergreen museum McMinnville

Former C-FNJB (CV-249) touched down on 06Aug2011 here at McMinnville after a two and a half hour ferry flight from Nanaimo, B.C. Acquired by the Captain Michael King Smith Foundation for Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in July 2010, it had taken a year to get the aircraft airworthy after a decade or more of neglect, sitting out in the Vancouver weather.
I had seen C-FNJB at Nanaimo in 2010 and had feared for its future; good to see it here on fine display.

Originally built for the Royal Canadian Air Force at the Canadian Vickers plant in St. Hubert, Quebec, this aircraft was delivered on 02Jun 1943 and would serve with the RCAF Eastern Air Command before going on to 13 Squadron at RCAF Rockliffe near Ottawa.
After retirement from military service in 1955, it was purchased by Kenting Aviation Ltd. of Toronto, who converted it to a fire bomber.
From 1963 through 1968 it fought fires in France before returning to Canada were it was sold to Norcanair Ltd. in Saskatchewan. It would remain there for 17 years; acquiring its gaudy red, yellow and green paint job in 1981.
In 2002 it was purchased by Aero Service Ltd. in Nanaimo and modified for an eco-tourism project in Indonesia, but that deal fell through and the airplane was left to sit and deteriorate.
The Catalina, now registered N249SB, was made flyable by Victoria Air Maintenance (VAM) for its final flight to its new home. As part of the process the engines, which were in very bad condition, were replaced with engines borrowed from VAM. Then, on Saturday August 6th, the flight crew of Lynn Hunt and Bob Dyck took the big bird back into the air for the final time and flew it to its new home.

Since its arrival, the Canso/Catalina received constant attention from the Evergreen restoration and paint crews. The borrowed engines were returned to VAM and the old engines and props re-installed; a new set of blister turrets acquired through the Pima Air & Space Museum were refurbished by the restoration team in Marana, AZ and the aircraft has received a new coat of paint. Gone are its fire-fighting markings; the eye-popping yellow scheme replaced with the blue and grey scheme of a US Navy PBY-5a from Patrol Squadron VP-44.

On my webpage Photos by Friends & Guests (22) you'll find more detailed information on this PBY Canso / Catalina; look for photos by John Olafson.
Dirk Septer wrote an article on the Big Yellow Birds of Nanaimo: pdf format


The museum has also acquired a Lockheed RC-121D Constellation (N4257L c/n 4335), but this hasn't yet made its way yet from Helena,MT :




Ralph Pettersen's website published an explanation (by the museum’s curator Stewart Bailey) concerning the effects of Evergreen's bankruptcy.

"To give you the latest, I can tell you that the Constellation is no longer ours.
The whole Evergreen bankruptcy thing got someone at the GSA to remember that we had GSA aircraft in the museum and they pulled our files. At that point, the regional office determined that because we had not moved the 'property' in the one year time frame in the standardized contract, that we were in breach of contract and they essentially took it away from us!
Our GSA rep in Salem argued with them, that you don’t just turn the key and fly a 60 year old airplane away, but to no avail.
Luckily, at the same time as the GSA was repossessing it, the Castle Air Museum called expressing an interest in acquiring the aircraft. In very short order, since they are a GSA qualified museum, the ownership was transferred to them.

As to what is going on with the museum; that is a much better story.
Evergreen International Aviation, which was the parent company to the museum declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy (i.e. liquidation) on December 31, 2013. This did not affect the museum too much, because we are a separate 501(c)3 non-profit educational charity, not part of the company.
The problem for us is that for all the years of its existence, the museum has been piggybacked onto the Evergreen corporate services such as IT, networks, HR and Payroll. We have spent the last 6 weeks trying to disentangle ourselves from that and set up new separate stand-alone systems for the museum. That has cost us a lot in time and resources, but when we are finished, we will be wholly free of Evergreen, the company.

One issue we do have is that our restoration shop was in an Evergreen owned building, and even though all of the contents of the building belong to the museum, we have been locked out of the building by the court appointed trustee. All of my volunteers are just beside themselves, as they are bored and want to get back to work on our other projects which include an F-89J Scorpion, a Piasecki HRP-1 and a Boeing A-160 Hummingbird.

As far as the collection goes, the media have far overstated the impact to the museum. At this point, we only
stand to lose two aircraft, the TBM-3 Avenger and the Ford Tri-Motor which Mr. Smith had used as collateral on a loan. These, along with most of the warbirds belong to Mr. Smith and as such are on loan to the museum and are not really the museum’s aircraft, so their departure, while sad, is nothing we can control. (Same as when a couple years ago, the National Museum of the Marine Corps took back the F6F Hellcat they had on loan to trade it to the Collings Foundation for a Boeing FB-5).

The press reports on the Spruce Goose were way out of line, as there is no potential of the Aero Club of Southern California taking it back. As they said, “They couldn’t keep it, which is why it was sold to Evergreen 20 years ago. They certainly don’t want it back.”
The issue, which is being negotiated by the lawyers, is what we owe the Aero Club on the final payment. The negotiations are ongoing and will be settled soon, so there is no chance that the Spruce Goose will be going anywhere.”


Useful links:
This museum on Wikipedia

For much of the above information I am indebted to Bob Ogden's wonderful guidebook: Aviation Museum and Collections of North America (Air-Britain Historians, 2011)


The march 2017 issue of Scramble magazine (#454) published an excellent log report by Michael Greenbaum, dated 19Jul2016.
Since the museum got in dire straights because of the Evergreen bankruptcy, this list may serve as an excellent milestone.
Updates welcomed !!! EMAIL
Logreport by Malcolm Greenbaum


Sep.2018 brought more bad news on the museum: "Air museum landlord crashes to earth amid fraud charges"
[Sep 23rd -]
By Jeff Manning/The Oregonian.

"Utah entrepreneur Steve Down was supposed to deliver the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum to a new era of financial stability. Instead, the would-be savior of one of Oregon's biggest tourist attractions has been besieged by bankruptcy filings and accusations of securities fraud."
"The investigation creates more uncertainty for the home of the legendary Spruce Goose.
Evergreen had cast its lot with Down in a 2016 restructuring, but the impact of Down's legal and financial travails goes way beyond the McMinnville museum. His companies have raised at least $130 million from individual investors.
It remains unclear how much of their money, if any, those investors will get back."
For more on this use the link above.




Return to

USA 2012

'Pacific Northwest & Alaska'




back to top...

Reactions / comments welcomed.