Not all that long ago I found myself out in the ghetto known as Portland, Oregon. Quite honestly the entire stay abysmal, offering little of redeeming value other than meeting a fellow author and my one day visit to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. These people are the caretakers of “The Spruce Goose.” The museum itself has some amazing things to see and I’m sure I will write other articles about the sights and sounds, but, the primary reason I went there was to walk through and sit in “Uncle Howard’s” plane. If you don’t get that reference, then you are just too young so skip over it.
For an extra fee you can get a private guided tour which allows you to sit in the cockpit wearing a hat they provide and have a picture taken just like this. The fee wasn’t all that much and given all of the stuff they have to take care of, I didn’t mind. This was the goal of the day.
The size of this plane is really hard to describe. With a regular flip-phone camera it is difficult to take any meaningful picture. This is just one wing and yes, that is another plane parked under it. When you walk though this plane you can’t help but recall the old adage:
It is a fine line between genius and insanity.
Of course I prefer to phrase it:
The only difference between a genius and an insane person is that someone eventually understood the genius.
Of course if you read even a tiny bit of Howard Hughes’ history you realize he went quite insane. Thankfully insane billionaires get to build their own asylum rather than being tossed into a state run institution. Only someone completely past the edge of normality would consider building something like this out of wood and flying it just to make a point.
Howard did a great many things in his life. Much of it couldn’t be done by a man who followed “common wisdom” or thought like other people. He had a tiff with the government over taxes he decided to create a non-profit charity to pursue “the genesis of life itself.” That would be the Howard Hughes Medical Institute which by most accounts is the second wealthiest philanthropic organization in the United States.
No. An ordinary mind does not come up with such things. Walking through the Spruce Goose gives one a sense of just how un-ordinary the mind of Howard Hughes really was.
While I find it difficult to recommend anyone actually endure Portland, Oregon on a vacation, if you find yourself being forced to go there, add a couple of days to your trip so you can visit this museum and all the wonders it has to display. There is only one Spruce Goose and it is inside this museum. Yes, inside. If you think the plane is huge you should really contemplate just how big the building is to hold all of those planes. Hence, plan for a couple of days.