Today is Spruce Goose day in Aviation History. In 1947 the wooden behemoth, took to the air on its first and only flight. The trip was unscheduled (it was supposed to be a taxi test, not a flight test) and it was unexpected by nearly everyone on board. The only person who knew it would fly that day was Howard Hughes himself. And he received panicked calls from engineers on board as it took flight; they had no idea what was going on and were concerned for the safety and stability of the plane. At least that’s the story told by the docents at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon where the plane rests today.
A couple weeks ago I was in Portland and, together with a couple friends, made the trek out to McMinnville to see the Spruce Goose. It really is as enormous as described (maybe more, really) and an incredible aircraft to wander about. We learned details like almost none of the plane is actually spruce and that it has a wider wingspan than even the super jumbos flying today.
Getting in to the plane on the main cargo deck is included as part of the price of admission to the museum. But for an additional $25 up to four people can head up the spiral stairs and on to the flight deck. Sit in the pilot seats and grab a photo with this piece of aviation history. Plus an extra 15 minutes of information from the docents who are spectacular. It is completely worth the money (limited availability though; make sure to ask about it when you arrive). We even recorded part of a podcast episode on board!
Just seeing the wooden laminate skin at the door frame was amazing. As were the stories about the tons of nails used during assembly (all of which were removed) or seeing into the wing where there is enough space for engineers to stand up as they monitor the engines.
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