The Spruce Goose was developed as the first in what was planned to be a fleet of flying boats that would deliver cargo and troops during World War II. Built in 1947 by Howard Hughes the Spruce Goose was funded with $18 million in federal dollars and $7 million of Hughes’ own money.
Dubbed a flying boat, the Spruce Goose has a 320-foot wing span and floats that allow it to land on water. The plane was made almost entirely of birch wood — a material that was not crucial to the war effort.
The plane was only flown once, by Hughes himself, on Nov. 2, 1947, in a mile-long test flight above California’s Long Beach Harbor. Hughes then stored it in a special hangar, and it never flew again. After the tycoon’s death in 1976, the Smithsonian briefly contemplated cutting up the plane and putting its pieces on display. But aviation enthusiasts protested and vowed to keep the legendary plane intact.
The Aero Club of Southern California acquired the aircraft and put the Spruce Goose on display in a hangar. In 1992, the Spruce Goose was sold to Evergreen International Aviation. The plane was transported to McMinnville in pieces by truck and barge by Emmert International and restored by a team of experts.