I’ve always been fascinated by the elusive, eccentric and very rich Howard Hughes.
My fascination with Mr. Hughes rekindled with the release of the 2004 bio-pic The Aviator depicting his career as legendary director and aviator from the late 1920’s to the mid-40’s – including his dream of the wooden wonder known as the “Spruce Goose”.
About a year ago I read that the Spruce Goose was in McMinnville, Oregon and I put it in my bucket. When I discovered that McMinnville was only 90 minutes from Junction City – “Chuck – we have to go!”
The Spruce Goose is now housed in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville – just one of a fabulous display of our amazing flying machines! The property includes 2 museums, a 3D theatre, a chapel, picnic grounds, and a fabulous indoor water slide…and is surrounded by different airplanes on the property – all in immaculate condition. That’s a real 747 aircraft sitting on the roof that you slide out of (but we didn’t do it…)! It’s a fascinating museum with impressive exhibits, a lot of wow’s and we highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.
The highlight of the display was the Spruce Goose – including a cockpit tour. This amazing flying machine was designed to fly trans-Atlantic to avoid the WWII German submarines that were sinking Allied ships. This giant took 5 years to build, was completed in 1947 and cost $18M of federal dollars and $7M of Hughes own money. It flew only once on November 2, 1947! A whopping distance of 1 mile at an altitude of 70′ above the water’s surface.
Just some of the highlights:
- built entirely of wood – mostly laminated layers of birch veneer with small amounts of maple, poplar, balsa and yes, spruce
- 7 tons of nails were used to shape and form the wooden pieces. Once the glue was set workers removed every nail
- vertical tail rises nearly 80’ in the air – the same as an 8 story building
- powered by 8 Pratt & Whitney 3000 Hp engines
- to ensure the giant bird’s buoyancy in case of an accident – Hughes ordered hundreds of beach balls be used to fill empty spaces in the back of the hulk and in the floats under the wings
It’s amazing that this wooden wonder was able to get off the water, but it did, and the rest is history!
Signing off – from the cockpit of the Spruce Goose!