3850 Three Mile Lane McMinnville, Oregon 97128 Tel: (503) 472-9361 Hotline (503) 768-5083
It was born of a critical national need to fly over the enemy submarines ravaging shipping lanes during World War II. First designated the HK-1 for the Howard Hughes and Henry Kaiser venture that responded to the government requirement, it was later called the H-4 Hercules.
The Hughes Flying Boat was to be the biggest airplane ever built and probably the most prodigious aviation project of all time. Only the courage and solitary dedication of Howard Hughes and his small development group caused this project to advance what a disgruntled U.S. Senator dubbed the "flying lumberyard." Now commonly tagged the Spruce Goose, this aircraft has endured to become a popular cultural artifact, telling a remarkable story of sacrifice, determination, and technological development. The HK-1, still the biggest aircraft ever built, was decades ahead of its time in the early 1940s. It revolutionized jumbo flying bodies and large lift capability, shaping modern flight.
Along the way, the Flying Boat development encountered and dealt with tremendous design and engineering problems, from the testing of new concepts for large-scale hulls and flying control surfaces, to the incorporation of complex power boost systems that gave the pilot the power of 100 men in controlling this Hercules.
Engineers hung eight of the most powerful engines available, and designed a mammoth fuel storage and supply system to allow the long, over-the-water flights. Mr. Hughes and his team accomplished all of this working with "nonessential" materials, building a wood aircraft, mostly birch not spruce, that even many of his colleagues dismissed as impossible. All of this was done within the impractical schedule of wartime.
On November 2, 1947, Howard Hughes and a small engineering crew fired up the R-4360s for taxi tests and thrilled thousands of on-lookers with an unannounced flight. With Howard Hughes at the controls, the Flying Boat lifted 70 feet off the water, and flew one mile in less than a minute at a top speed of 80 miles per hour before making a perfect landing. This trial was simple vindication from the detractors of the program and it is now looked back upon as a great moment in flight history. The popular Spruce Goose is now appropriately regarded as a true American icon.
HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat disassembly began August 10, 1992 and was completed in six weeks. Plans called for disassembly into 38 separate elements. These elements were shipped to their destination in Oregon by land and sea.
The project proceeded in the following order: propellers, engines, tail cone, pontoons, wing fairings and tips, elevators, rudder, ailerons, vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizers, and wings. The following facts serve to illustrate the immense size and scope of this project.
Fuselage: Two 30-ton Sherman tanks or 750 troops can fit inside the Flying Boat.
Engines: The R4360 Pratt & Whitney engines are 3,000 horsepower each-the largest piston-driven engines for aircraft in production. Each engine has 28 cylinders, with two spark plugs each, totaling 56 spark plugs per engine, or 448 spark plugs per aircraft. For in-flight inspection and repair, the engines are accessible through the spar of the 13-foot thick wing. A Sight station located behind each engine allows an engineer to monitor for leaks, and to change generators and fuel pumps.
Vertical Stabilizer: Towering 85 feet above the keel, the height of the vertical stabilizer is equal to an eight-story building or the entire length of a B-17 Flying Fortress.
Horizontal Stabilizer: The horizontal stabilizer totals 113 feet in length-five feet longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 727, and ten feet longer than the wingspan of a B-17. A Piper Cub could use the surface as a runway for take-off.
Wings: The HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest wing span of any aircraft ever constructed. At 320 feet, the span is equal to a football field including the end zones. The Wright Brothers' first plane flew barely half the distance of the Flying Boat's wingspan.
The skilled and experienced disassembly crew included planners, schedulers, mechanics, engineers, riggers, equipment operators, and trades of many kinds. These crew members operated under an extremely demanding schedule, requiring close coordination, daily project review, and long hours of effort. Pioneers who helped to design and construct the aircraft under Hughes in the 1940s were on hand to oversee the project, many beginning and ending their aviation careers with the Flying Boat.
The passage from California to Oregon took several weeks. Propellers, engines, and smaller parts from the HK-1 were crated and shipped overland via Interstate 5.
A 60 foot by 60 foot window was opened in the geodesic dome to allow for removal of the aircraft. Sections too large for overland passage, sailed by barge to Portland. Parts were shrink-wrapped for protection from potentially damaging sunlight and moisture. Specially designed cradles were constructed to brace the large sections of the aircraft during the sea and land transfers and temporary storage.
After disassembly and shrink wrapping, the sections were rolled out of the dome and onto an ocean barge. The rudder, ailerons, elevators, flaps, and horizontal stabilizers departedon October 10th and arrived Portland Terminal 2 in five days.
Leaving the Port of Long Beach on October 13th, the Flying Boat fuselage, wings and tail sailed north through the Pacific Ocean. Traveling 20 miles off the coasts of California and Oregon, the Sause Bros. barge Nehalem and tug Natoma completed the 980 nautical mile journey to Portland, arriving sundown October 18th. With an official proclamation of 'Spruce Goose Day in Portland,' thousands of fans came to waterfront park on October 22nd to welcome the Flying Boat to Oregon.
Throughout the next several months, weather and river levels wreaked havoc with the move schedule. A recurring obstacle was the Willamette River at levels either too high for the wings to clear bridges, or too low to allow off| loading. Crossing the historic Willamette Falls locks at West Linn the fuselage set a record as the longest load ever to lock through, and the wings set records as the highest.
When all sections landed on Oregon territory near the end of January 1993, the overland preparations for the seven and one-half mile journey over the narrow backroads of Yamhill County began. Setting off from the Weston Bar off-load site, the caravan of sections and heavy moving equipment stretched more than 1,500 feet.
Joining the convoy on February 27,1993 for a Spruce Goose Homecoming Parade down the final mile were vintage military vehicles, classic automobiles, antique fire and farm equipment, equestrian groups, school bands, and Scout troops. Members of the Evergreen air force, along with local vintage aircraft and hot air balloons, saluted the HK-1 from the sky. The arrival marked the end of the 1,055 mile, 138 day odyssey from Long Beach.
The Flying Boat is stored in a temporary facility on the Evergreen International Aviation campus during construction of the Evergreen Air Venture Museum which is scheduled for completion early 1996. Please inquire at the hotline number 503.768.5083. to verify status of the exhibit.
The display in the new museum in McMinnville will incorporate the Hughes Flying Boat with a collection of beautifully restored and priceless antiques, golden age aircraft, and warbirds, many of the vintage to bring the Hughes Flying Boat to life.
The Evergreen collection of aircraft is already one of the very best in the country. Selected for their historic importance and restored to highest standards of flying condition, this collection commands attention.
Made available to the museum by Delford M. Smithof Evergreen International Aviation, the collection includes:
Introduced during WWII, the B-17 is believed to be responsible for winning the campaign in Europe.
The Corsair was used almost exclusively in World War II as a land-based Marine fighter-bomber and a carrier launched "Navy" fighter.
The Spitfire has become a symbol of the valiant efforts of British pilots during the outbreak of WWII in the Battle of Britain.
The Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor was used for freight service, flying the mail, and early passenger transportation. "Tin Goose" was the first airplane flown over the South Pole by Admiral Byrd in 1929.
Evergreen Air Venture Museum is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational and scientific organization chartered in Oregon State for the purpose of preserving and displaying historic flight artifacts and communicating the history of flight and aviation technology. The new museum will feature as its centerpiece the historic HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat. This aircraft is the largest ever built and has become recognized as one of the several most important aviation icons in American cultural history.
Evergreen Air Venture Museum will be a full-service museum, open to the public, and operated to museum standards for exhibits, programs, and collection care. Envisioned is a world-class visitor attraction in a setting that offers much more than the typical museum experience, with visitor amenities, recreational facilities, special programs and events, and the dynamic of active flying just beyond the museum walls.
Located adjacent to McMinnville Municipal Airport, there is no better place in the world for an aviation museum. Several hundred acres are available to comfortably site a complex of facilities and accommodate many visitors and large events. The varied land forms and pastoral setting will evoke the early barnstorming days of flight.
The proposed site will have airfield access via a new connecting taxiway to enable vintage exhibit aircraft to be flown. The active airfield is a powerful and unmatched complement to the museum that increases the value of the static displays and exhibits. The environment is made even more dramatic with the flyable Evergreen collection of historic aircraft that will be displayed with the Flying Boat. The museum campus will have vistas of Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor.
Located 36 miles southwest of Portland in McMinnville, the museum will be accessed directly from Highway 18, which serves as the principal route connecting the Portland metropolitan area and the central Oregon coast.
Planning and design of the museum is underway, with grand opening scheduled for early 1996.
The museum has installed a hotline for up-to-date information regarding the development of the museum. The hotline number is 503.768.5083.