OR – Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum (McMinnville)

Hours: Museum is open 9AM – 5PM Everyday

Campus Pass: Adult (17-64): $27, Senior (65+): $26, Youth (5-16): $25

Includes entry to the Aviation Museum, Space Museum, the Firearms Exhibit, one ride on the Evergreen Biplane Carousel, and one IMAX movie.

Museum Pass: Adult: $20, Senior: $19, Youth: $18

Includes entry to the Aviation and Space Museums, the Firearms Exhibit and one ride on the Evergreen Biplane Carousel.

http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/

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Review:

The Lad and I checked out the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum today. I had never been before, and was looking for something airplane inspired as the Hillsboro Airshow is this coming weekend and the Lad is going with dad.

The drive to the museum, from Portland, is about an hour each way (depending on traffic, of course), although it is scenic and takes you through the heart of Yamill Wine Country (there are some really nice stops for mom and dad along the way too…although those stops are made even better when you don’t have a little one tagging along!). We went down Highway 99, through Sherwood, Newberg, and Dundee, turned left at Highway 18, drove about 5 miles and were there.

The museum is broken up into 4 buildings. One building houses the new indoor waterpark, which we didn’t have time to check out, but warrents another trip out there in the near future! To the right of that building is the Aviation part of the museum. As you continue right, the next building is the IMAX theater and lastly is the Space Museum building. We started in the Aviation Museum.

Looking at the Aviation building from the Space building

The Spruce Goose is the big draw. They called this plane the “Flying Boat”, and due to war-time restrictions on metal, was built of wood (birch…not spruce as the name would imply) by Howard Hughes. It was originally built as military transport, to fly as many service men as possible to other parts of the world. It was only ever flown once, in 1947 by Hughes and a crew, during the test flight. When you see how truly large the plane is, and how small the 8 engines are, you really have to marvel. Especially, compared to things we have in the sky today.

Looking towards the tail, inside the Spruce Goose

For folks who just want to stand inside, walk up a set of stairs, enter the door and have a look around. A glass enclosure, keeps you to one small room. For $50/person, you can have a tour, past the glass and sit in the cockpit.

There are over 200 aircraft to look at beside the Spruce Goose, both hanging from the ceiling and arranged throughout the hangar. There are also old cars, lots of big engines, and an area where the kids can play in experimental planes (decomissioned) and learn about air pressure and what reflexes you have to have to be a pilot for the Air Force. The collection is incredible.

After our wander through the museum, we grabbed a quick bite to eat. The cafe in the Aviation building does mostly cold sandwiches, soup, coffee, and ice cream. The cafe in the Space building does things like hamburgers and salads (more of a warm lunch…both places had hot dogs for the kids). The prices ranged from $4.50 for the kids lunch to $7.25 for an adults lunch.

We ate and headed straight for the Space building and were drawn immediately to our right, where they had the Biplane ride for the kids. The Lad picked the blue plane.

A little something fun for the kiddies!

We entered the exhibit and were immediately in the Mars Rover area. Both the Lad and I agree…the Rover looks a bit like WALL-E! We spent some time watching the video about how he rolls around Mars, and exited the small room into the larger part of the hangar, straight into the rocket area. The rockets are flat out enormous, so we walked up the stairs and took a look from a viewing area above the exhibits. As we walked along, we could see different things that we wanted to head to when we got down, and also were able to see into a few things that were hanging from the ceiling a little better (we wouldn’t have been able to see from the floor). The rocket that really took my breath away was Titan II.

This beast is Titan II

Titan II is sunk into the floor and still towers above you. You can walk down 2 big flights of stairs that encircle the rocket booster. At the bottom of the first flight is a control room, where you can simulate a rocket take-off. If you walk down to the bottom, you are standing right there next to the engines, and even though it is dormant, it is pretty intense.

As we continued down the balcony, we went down the stairs on the opposite end, and landed at a scene from the first Lunar landing. It was pretty cool to see the space suits the men wore and the car they drove. They even had a hammock the fellas slept in and astronaught food on display (I noticed that it was on loan from the Smithsonian, and I remember seeing it there 4 years ago, when we toured their Air and Space Museum! That stuff really keeps!).

The Lunar Landing scene

As we walked along, we learned a lot about the space program. The Lad was especially curious about the video that played, teaching us about the first men to go into orbit. Space fashion has certainly come a long way too!

The helicopter exhibit is currently in the Space building and that was really interesting. There is a small helicopter for kids to sit in and pretend they are flying, as well as loads of different helicopters to look at. There are also some fun games for them to learn what it takes to fly helicopters.

As we were exiting, we walked pass the SR-71 Blackbird, one of the worlds fastest planes, which also flew at the earth atmosphere’s edge at an insane 2000 mph. Can you imagine?

Just outside of the Space building, they have installed a fantastic playground. The sign says it was built for kids 5-12, but I saw much smaller kids playing just fine there (you know your kids limits). The swings accomodate babies, and there are smaller slides for the littlest, and big, dark slides for the bigger. The 3 structures are shaped like a helicopter, a plane and a rocket, which was very clever. It was a great way to end the day before hopping back in the car for the drive home. We also have enjoyed the waterpark and highly recommend it!

2 of the 3 playstructures

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