Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spruce Goose

Looking down the wing that was high enough for a man to stand in.
The Spruce Goose and a replica of the Wright Flier.
The wingspan of this WWII B-17 was less than the span of the tail wing of the Goose.
The interior of the Spruce Goose.

We stayed at the Sleepy Hollow Campground in Lafayette, OR for two days so we could visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The museum is the home of the Spruce Goose, the largest wooden plane ever built. Because of the shortage of metal the plane was constructed out of birch. It was given the name Spruce Goose as a criticism of the cost of a wooden plane that most people did not think would fly. It was built by Howard Hughes at the end of WW II and was featured in the movie about him starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The plane was designed to fly troops to Europe and avoid the German u-boats but became obsolete before it was completed because the war ended. As with many other things, Hughes became obsessed with its completion and spent several million of his own money to finish the project. It was completed and was cleared to practice taxiing in 1945, but with Hughes at the controls he put the plane in the air for a one mile flight. It was the only time it flew and Hughes spent a million dollars a year to store it in a hanger for 33 years until his death. It was then opened to the public in a specially constructed dome in California. When the company that owned it was bought by Disney, who had no interest in the plane, it was purchased by the Evergreen Company in McMinnville. OR. It was disassembled, put on barges and shipped to Oregon where it was restored and reassembled to be displayed in their new museum. I have always been interested in this plane and we had seen the movie so we both enjoyed seeing it up close. It towers over all the other aircraft with its 320 foot wingspan filling much of the building. You can also go inside to see the cargo bay, but a tour of the flight deck was an extra $20 each so we passed. The museum has a extensive collection of restored military, commercial, and private aircraft with about 65% being flight certified. They have big plans for the museum including a hotel and a water park where you will be able to slide out of a 747. We have been to several aviation museums and we enjoyed this one, but if you have been to others and have no interest in the Spruce Goose you can pass.

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