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If your travels will include the Portland OR area as well as Seattle, there's a place you must visit.

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum has a wonderful collection of aviation related materials.

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Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

An amazing collection with some unique exhibits

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum 

The impressive exterior of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR



Sometimes in life one finds some of one's best experiences in the most unexpected places and circumstances.

Perhaps the same can be said of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.  Almost literally in the middle of nowhere (McMinnville has a population of 32,000 and is an hour's drive from Portland) you will find an impressive museum structure housing almost 100 airplanes and helicopters, plus space capsules, rocket engines, missiles, and much more.

The piece de resistance is undoubtedly the Spruce Goose - the gargantuan wooden airplane designed and built by Howard Hughes in the 1940s.

Outside of Seattle - Still More Aviation Attractions

The parts of this series so far have concentrated on aviation themed tourist attractions relatively close to Seattle city.

However, there are of course very many other aviation attractions, the further afield you travel. We briefly discuss some of these on the next page of this series, but one museum stands out, head and shoulders above the rest, and demands its own page - the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

Please click through the other pages in this series for information on the aviation related places you can go and the things you can see in the greater Seattle and Puget Sound area, and read the additional material below about how best to plan your aviation themed activities in the greater Puget Sound area.

0.  Aviation Themed Attractions in the Seattle Area - intro/overview

1.  Museum of Flight, Seattle

2.  Boeing Factory Tour & Future of Flight, Everett

3.  Flying Heritage Collection, Everett

4.  Historic Flight Foundation, Everett

5.  Museum of Flight Restoration Center, Everett

6.  Heritage Flight Museum, Bellingham

7.  Fly in a glider/sailplane/balloon

8.  Special Events

9.  Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR

10.  Other Regional Aviation Museums

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR

This museum is a long way from Seattle - indeed, it is an hour southwest of Portland, OR, so that makes it 4+ hours away from Seattle.

But it is such an extraordinary museum that it is worthy of mention, even if you don't visit it while in Seattle and choose to make a separate trip on another occasion.

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum has an absolutely extraordinary collection of airplanes, space craft, and other related objects.

For example, when it comes to fighter planes, the museum has planes dating back to the classic World War 1 fighters - the Sopwith Camel and the Fokker Dr.1 triplane, then spanning the WW2 era, Korea, Vietnam, and all the way to modern planes such as the F-14D Tomcat and F-15A Eagle, plus a MiG-29.

SR-71 at Evergreen Aviation Museum

A GTD-21 drone in front of the SR-71 with other planes and exhibits filling up the remainder of the space.


It has other rare and notable planes such a a B-17G Flying Fortress, a DC-3 (C-47), a SR-71A Blackbird, and - drum roll please, the Spruce Goose.

Spruce Goose in Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

You can get a sense of the enormity of the size of the Spruce Goose when you see the small WW1 biplane in front of it.

It has other commercial planes too, even a 747-100.  At the other end of the scale, the museum has kit-planes that people can build at home, and even a lovely Schweizer SGS 2-32 glider, as well as a collection of helicopters.

Some of the planes are loaners from other collections, so there is an occasional rotation of planes in and out of the museum as well (ie a reason to return from time to time).

If you prefer space, then there are Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules, as well as various rocket engines and unmanned satellites and other objects (some of which are replicas).

SMLE No 1 Mk 3 and Sten

I was pleased to see a British Sten gun and a beautifully preserved Short Magazine Lee Enfield as part of their firearms exhibits.


There is also a 4,000 sq ft area devoted to firearms, and all manner of what they call 'incidental exhibits' ranging from tanks to vintage cars and aircraft engines and other bits and pieces.

Tanks and more at the Evergreen Aviation Museum

An unclear link to aviation, but many aviation museums seem to end up with some armored vehicles too, as is the case with the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.


And when you're done looking at static exhibits, you can visit their Imax 3D theatre to watch one of several different aviation themed movies on rotation.

Soon to open is a 'nonprofit educational waterpark' - three words seldom seen strung together.  It will have four waterslides, a wave pool, and a children's museum designed to educate them about the power of water.  An interesting and novel addition to an aviation/aerospace museum, for sure.

Waterpark building at Evergreen Aviation Museum

Artist's impression of the new building for the waterpark, complete with a 747-100 mounted on the roof of the building!

The museum was founded by Delford Smith, and in large part honors his son, Michael King Smith, who died in a car accident in 1995.  Delford Smith founded Evergreen International Aviation more than 40 years, a company that has grown to be a very large air freight and air services provider, located immediately adjacent on the other side of the road, also at McMinnville Airport.

You can enjoy the museum at your own pace, or take a guided tour at 11am and 1.30pm; these last about an hour or slightly longer.

There are two cafes and also two gift shops.

The museum is open daily, from 9am - 5pm.  Admission is $20, with discounts for seniors, children, and AAA members.

For full details, see their website.

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Originally published 25 March 2011, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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