Due to being late to buy a ticket, I would fly to Fremont on Sunday instead of Saturday to save a few dollars on airfare. To kill time, I visited the Evergreen Museum and the town of McMinnville on Saturday.

The museum consists of two hangers, one for air and the other for space, with doors facing the parking lot and each other. A smaller building sits in between, housing an IMAX theater. At a far end with a separate road and parking, there’s another building with a Boeing 747 sitting on the roof. I believe that is the water park I have heard as I saw tubes connected to the airplane. A lot of open space with a few airplanes on the lawn.

The collections are mostly military and private planes, including some home built.

While I was looking at the B-17, Flying Forest, a guide came by and explained that the wing flaps were actually made of fiber. That increased the reliability as a bullet hole would not affect the functionality.

 I asked him if Memphis Belle was a B-17. He looked it up and told me that it’s an F version, slightly different from the one on display. He described in great details the engines and some control systems. I was very impressed by the fact that they were all mechanical. The blades of the propellers can turn to different angles to produce optimal force, and to reduce drag in the case when an engine had to be shut down. 

I wondered that, with dozens or even hundreds of these planes flying in formation, how they prevented a gunner from accidently shooting at one of his own. He pointed to the top turret in the picture above, said training. The gun from the top turret could smash shells into its own propellers, if not careful. Such accidents actually happened during the war.

What’s interesting about this picture below is the little circle beside the triangle, which served as the sight and was used by the gunner to aim on a target. The littler circle is a door which would allow the gunner to stick his hand out and clean the sight in midair.

If memory serves me right, the gunner on Memphis Belle was in the front turret where the guns are located on this B-17, instead of the nose here. One final note on B-17, it’s not compressurised that crew must wear heavy suits hooked to the plane which provided adjustable heat. That means, at the maximum range, crew were not only confined in a small space for ten to eleven hours but also restricted to one spot in that small space most of the time.

Now to the main attraction and the purpose of my visit: Spruce Goose. If the name dose not ring a bell, remember the movie Aviator, starred Leonardo DiCaprio? Or the person he portrayed, Howard Hughes? Howard’s father made his fortune during oil boom selling drill pits. Howard was a borderline genius and madman. He officially died in Houston. However, it’s well likely that his heart was maintained to beat by life support during his final flight so he could die on U.S. soil. Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland was accused to be a front shell for Hughes Aircraft Company in order for the defense contractor to avoid paying taxes. Spruce Goose is the nickname for the transport H-4 Hercules Hughes Aircraft designed and built during World War II. It was made entirely of birch wood. I can’t find the origin of and the reason why the name Spruce Goose. It was so large at the time and considered a flying boat. The hanger had no space for me to be far enough that I could only take a snap of a small portion or use panorama.

I read that McMinnville was becoming trendy for food and there was a UFO festival going on in town so I went there for a late lunch and to experience a small-town entertainment. I parked at the edge of the town and followed the crowd towards the town center. The historic 3rd Street was packed with people and all restaurants along it were crowded. I randomly walked into one after zig-zagging through people for awhile and found a table by windows. It turned out to be the famous McMenamins Hotel Oregon which plays the host of the annual UFO Convention. I had lunch there while watched the parade gone through. 

I asked the waitress if the elk burger was good. She said that she was from Portland, had never tried it and was there because of the festival. The burger was okay but the beer was excellent. 

After lunch I walked further along the 3rd Street as the crowd was dissipating. There were a few antique stores, gift shops and many wine tasting rooms. Some were open but quite a few were closed. Coffee shops closed at three in the afternoon, which I found interesting. I particularly liked the close sign of this store. 

I was held back by tractors twice on the road, to and from McMinnville, which served as a not-so-subtle reminder that I was in a different world from the one I was used to.