Visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum to see the world's largest plane.
The Evergreen Aviation Museum is 1 hour southwest of Portland Oregon, in the small town of McMinnville (check hours & admission).
This fantastic museum is home to the famous Spruce Goose, the world's largest aircraft. Its aircraft collection traces the history of aviation, from the Wright Brothers, WWI and II fighter planes, the first commercial airlines, the space race of the 1950s and 1960s, and the launch of the international space station in 1998.
There's also a Space Museum, IMAX, and a waterpark with a plane parked on its roof! Set aside 5 hours to see the Space Museum and Aviation Museum, and enjoy a meal at the cafes at both museums.
10 best things to see at Evergreen Aviation Museum.
1. Step onboard the world's largest aircraft, the famous Spruce Goose.
When you enter the Evergreen Aviation Museum, your first word will be "wow" as you are greeted by the awesome sight of the world's largest aircraft, the "Spruce Goose". The Spruce Goose was constructed by entrepreneur Howard Hughes in the 1940s as a transatlantic shipping plane to avoid German submarines and assist with the Allied war effort. It only flew once on November 2, 1941, for a mere 26 seconds!
The aircraft is made entirely from wood, because metals like steel were in short supply during the war. Howard Hughes contributed $7 million to the cost, and the remaining $18 million came from the federal government.
Step inside the massive interior of the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, to get a sense of the sheer scale of this dramatic engineering feat. Howard Hughes conducted private tours of the plane for celebrity guests such as Marilyn Monroe.
2. Look inside Henry Ford's plane, the Tin Lizzie.
The Evergreen Aviation Museum also has some fascinating exhibits on the origins of commercial flight in the U.S. This includes Henry Ford's foray into the aviation business with a three-engine plane known as the Tin Lizzie.
There were 200 Tin Lizzies manufactured for passenger airlines in the 1920s. It proudly displays the Ford logo on its corrugated metal tailwing.
Step inside the 1920s interior of the Tin Lizzie, at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, and admire the vintage curtains and sconces.
3. See the first aircraft designed to carry a nuclear weapon.
The first single-seat aircraft designed to carry a nuclear weapon was the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. It was manufactured between 1950 to 1957, but was only deployed once by the French Airforce in the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Peek inside the cockpit of the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak.
4. Get upclose to the most popular supersonic jet in the world.
The supersonic Russian fighter jet known as the MiG 21MF Fishbed J is still in service today, and is the most prolific supersonic jet in the world, found in fifty different airforces. It was introduced in 1959.
5. Learn about the commercial airline that performed secret military missions for the CIA.
Evergreen International Airlines commenced operations in McMinnville Oregon in 1975, and ceased operations in 2013 due to financial issues. It operated a fleet of Boeing 747s that performed cargo and passenger services, performing secret military missions for the CIA all over the world. You can see an Evergreen Boeing 747 at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.
6. Visit the Evergreen Space Museum.
The Evergreen Space Museum is housed in a separate building. The key highlights are replicas of the Saturn V rocket and Eagle lunar module used in the first moon landing, and the Moon Buggy used in Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17. Visitors can also peer inside the tiny interior of an authentic Mercury Spacecraft.
7. See an unmanned drone that can stay in the air for 36 hours.
The grey, unmanned aerial vehicle suspended from the ceiling, is known as the The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Drone. It can stay in the air for 36 hours, and has flown missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
8. Check out the Mars rover that can be operated remotely from earth.
This is a replica of the Mars rover "Spirit" at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The electric motor is powered by solar panels, enabling it to travel 0.1 miles each hour. These vehicles can be operated remotely from earth.
9. See the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile.
This is the Russian Kuznetsov RD-107 rocket engine, that launched the Sputnik satellite (1957) and Vostok spacecraft (1961 to 1963) into space. It was originally designed as the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile.
10. View a replica of Neil Armstrong's moon suit.
This is a replica of Neil Armstrong's A7L moon suit and the Apollo Module at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The Apollo Module landed on the moon's surface for the first time on July 20, 1969, piloted by Neil Armstrong. It only had 20 seconds of fuel left after it touched down!
11. Check out a Lunar Roving Vehicle.
This Lunar Roving Vehicle was used in Apollo Missions 15, 16 and 17, and was driven across the moon's surface. It has its own navigation and communications system.
12. See the Command Module that transported astronauts back to earth.
Below is a replica of the Apollo Command Module at the Evergreen Aviation Museum that landed astronauts on the moon. It sped back to earth at speeds of 25,000 miles per hour, with a heatshield that protected the astronauts from the 9,000 degree Fahrenheit heat on the module's shell.
13. Look at the world's fastest aircraft.
The fierce looking SR-71 Blackbird was developed by Lockheed Martin and used by the US Airforce and NASA. This legendary spy plane was developed in the 1950s, and can fly faster than a missile.
Here's another perspective of the awesome SR-71 Blackbird at the Evergreen Aviation Museum.
14. See a helicopter that can land with skis or floats!
The Piasecki H-21 tandem rotor helicopter is incredibly versatile, and can land on wheels, skis or floats! It was introduced in 1949, and used for troop transport, carrying up to 20 soldiers.
15. Peer inside the spacious Sirkorsky helicopter.
This yellow Sikorsky H-5 had its first flight in 1943, and was used by the U.S. Coast Guard, Airforce and Marine Corps, and could carry two stretchers for rescues.
16. Check out more cool helicopters at the Evergreen Aviation Museum!
The Kaman SH-2 Seasprite (on the left), and the Sikorsky H-34 (on the right), are U.S. anti-submarine warfare helicopters launched in the 1960s. The Sikorsky H-19 (middle) is a transport helicopter launched in 1954.
17. Look at a ballistic missile that NASA used to launch satellites.
The incredible 103-foot intercontinental ballistic missile, the Titan II, was used to launch satellites and manned spacecraft by NASA. It was in service 1962 to 1987.
18. Check out the world's first long range guided missile.
You're looking at the world's first long range guided missile at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. It's known as the V-2 Rocket, and was launched by the Nazis during WWII to attack London and the Netherlands.
19. View the Gemini Spacecraft that flew ten mission in the 1960s.
This is a replica of the Gemini Spacecraft. It had ten crewed missions between 1961 and 1966, where NASA gathered important data about spacewalks in preparation for a future moon landing.
20. See a NASA vehicle designed to land on Earth using a parachute.
This original NASA X-38 re-entry vehicle was an emergency crew return vehicle from the International Space Station, designed to land on Earth using a steerable parachute. It was tested during the late 1990s.
21. See a rocket that put satellites in orbit.
The impressive Titan IVB is a heavy lift space launch vehicle, and this single-use rocket put satellites in orbit from 1997 to 2005.
22. Check out an anti-submarine attack helicopter.
Look up at the Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King anti-submarine attack helicopter, operational between 1961 to 2006 by the U.S. Navy.
23. View the Mercury Spacecraft that put NASA astronauts in orbit.
This is the Mercury Spacecraft that put NASA astronauts into orbit in the late 1950s. There were six successful missions in total between 1959 and 1963.
Important information about the Evergreen Aviation Museum.