The Spruce Goose, or H-4 Hercules—also called the flying lumberyard—only took flight once. It lifted some 70 feet off the water and flew for around a mile. That was to be the wooden behemoth’s only moment of glory.
Built from laminated wood to conserve metal during the war, the Spruce Goose was, in fact, built almost entirely from birch. Howard Hughes himself detested the nickname for the plane, one of three “flying boats” he had been contracted to build for the government to the tune of 18 million dollars.
After its first and last flight, the Spruce Goose was kept in a specially designed hanger for 33 years. After Hughes’s death in 1976, however, the plane was set to be disassembled. Saved at the last minute, the plane was displayed throughout the world before finally coming to rest in her custom-built home, the Evergreen Aviation Museum.
The Museum is home to many aircraft, from a replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 Flyer to a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird. There is a separate IMAX theater and Space Museum with numerous exhibits pertaining to space flight. A water park topped by a Boeing 747 (the starting point for a slide) completes the complex.
As of 2016, the Collings Foundation purchased most of the vintage World War II aircraft and plan to move them to Stow, MA. The Spruce Goose and other civil aviation craft remain.
Know Before You Go
The Museums and IMAX complex is located at:
500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way
McMinnville, Oregon 97128