By Sal Maccarone
The shape and design of any object should relate directly to its purpose. This wisdom applies to all aspects of Industrial Art. The phrase, “Form follows function,” was first spoken by architect Louis Sullivan, the father of the modern skyscraper, during the late 1800’s. His point was simple, and still applies: the form of an object should relate to that object’s function. And when you think about it, sometimes form and function will act as one. A perfect example – the airplane!
The combined dreams of a father and his son culminated in the building of an air museum like no other. Delford “Del” Smith was a helicopter pilot who catapulted his business into a global giant. What began with a single helicopter in 1960 soon blossomed into a colossus with annual revenues of over one billion dollars: Evergreen Aviation International. Along the way, Del pioneered many uses for the helicopter that few thought were possible. He was the first in this country to use helicopters for spraying & seeding crops, fighting forest fires, medical transportation, heavy construction, and logging. An exceedingly inventive person!
Del’s son, Captain Michael Smith, was the one with the dream of creating an air museum like no other. A living museum that would celebrate not only the phenomenon of flight, but also pay tribute to the pilots and innovators that make flying possible. Together, Del and Michael began collecting vintage airplanes and began the process of creating their world class museum. Early in this process, and quite coincidentally, the Hughes H-4 Hercules, or Spruce Goose, was in need of a new home. There were a few bidders, but in the end the contract was won by the Smiths. Once the arrangements were made, and after a 138 day journey from Long Beach, California, the disassembled H-4 arrived in McMinnville, Oregon.
Here is a video of that journey, and the plane’s subsequent re-assembly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfkyhj-g22w
The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is astounding in both breadth and scope. Located in McMinnville, a very unlikely place, the museum is comprised of four state-of-the-art buildings on many acres of land.
The museum is beautifully designed and well thought out with lots of space to roam. It is a place where one can view the evolution of flight with a multitude of docents who will explain whatever needs explaining. The Hughes H-4, a Martin Titan II missile, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and an amazing host of fully restored aircraft are just a few of the things to study. I have been back to the museum four different times and still have not seen everything. There is a state-of-the-art 3-D movie theater (in a separate building) which highlights everything from the aircraft carrier to space travel. There are buildings devoted to historic military and general aviation aircraft, and one building devoted to space travel. And if you need some R&R after visiting the museums, there is an indoor water park, complete with a water slide, which emanates from a Boeing 747 mounted on the roof. Wow!