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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: JULY
Evergreen wins bid for Flying Boat
By Yvette Saarinen
Of the News-Register
The news traveled faster than a SR71 Blackbird: Howard Hughes'
legendary Flying Boat is coming to McMinnville.
More commonly known as the Spruce Goose, a name scorned by
aircraft aficionados, its new resting place was secured by Evergreen
International Airlines of McMinnville.
Faxes and phone calls Friday flew over the wires between McMinnville
and Long Beach, Calif., Seattle, Wash., and even Oshkosh, Wis.
- all of which played a part in the saga.
Evergreen was chosen in a unanimous vote Thursday by the Aero
Club of Southern California, which authorized its subsidiary,
Aero Exhibits Corp., to negotiate the sale.
The Flying Boat has been on display in Long Beach, managed
by the Walt Disney Co. The firm notified the Port of Long Beach
that it was going to discontinue its lease in September, setting
the stage for the competitive process.
Evergreen representatives have declined to discuss the money
side of the deal, but William Schoneberger, president of Aero
Exhibits, said money was not the deciding factor. Care, preservation
and appropriate display of the historic aircraft was chosen over
proposals from commercial theme parks.
There were six bidders from both the East and West coasts.
"We felt the most substantial proposal was from Evergreen,
which operates aircraft and helicopters worldwide and already
has a large collection of historic aircraft," Schoneberger
Evergreen's proposal was orchestrated by Howard Lovering,
retired founding director of the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
He said the McMinnville showcase, tentatively called Evergreen
AirVenture Museum, will have the Flying Boat as its centerpiece
and feature at least the 24 historic aircraft Evergreen owner
Del Smith already has collected.
The museum will require at least 200,000 square feet to house
the Flying Boat and associated aircraft, Lovering said. Details
will be worked out, but it must fit in a rural setting and be
handsome, he said. The museum will be nonprofit.
Lovering predicted it will be one of the finest flight museums
in the world.
Concentration so far has been on engineering the move of the
world's largest aircraft. The wings, part of the tail and the
engines will be taken off. It will be placed on an ocean barge
and moved to Portland, where it is possible it will be stored
for as long as three years, while the museum is constructed.
Lovering said a barge company has assured the Evergreen team
it can transport the craft on a river barge up the Willamette
and the Yamhill River as far as Dayton. It then would be trucked
about three miles to its new home.
Lovering has experienced moving big craft before. He oversaw
the overland transport of an SR71 Blackbird from California to
the Seattle museum. The Blackbird will fit inside the Flying
"Evergreen's driving motivation is to preserve the historic
aircraft and the legacy of Howard Hughes," said Smith. "This
is an act of good citizenship and not a commercial venture. We
admire the many aviation contributions of Mr. Hughes and believe
this significant aircraft can continue to tell the Hughes story
for years to come."
Smith said a capital campaign for public and private support
will be launched in the near future.
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