Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is an aviation museum. Among its military and civilian aircraft and spacecraft is the Hughes H-4 Hercules, popularly known as the Spruce Goose. The museum is in McMinnville, Oregon, across the street from the former headquarters of Evergreen International Aviation and across Oregon Route 18 from McMinnville Municipal Airport (KMMV). An IMAX theater opened in 2007, and a second exhibit hall focusing on the Titan II ICBM and space technology opened in 2008.

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
Evergreen Aviation Museum
Established1991 (as the Evergreen Museum)
LocationMcMinnville, Oregon, United States
Coordinates45°12′14″N 123°8′36″W / 45.20389°N 123.14333°WCoordinates: 45°12′14″N 123°8′36″W / 45.20389°N 123.14333°W
TypePrivate: aerospace
FounderDelford M. Smith and Michael King Smith
DirectorBrandon Roben


B-25J at Evergreen Museum
A B-25 Mitchell bomber on the main floor of the museum.

First envisioned by Michael King Smith, a former captain in the United States Air Force and son of Evergreen International Aviation founder Delford M. Smith, the Evergreen Museum opened in 1991 with a small collection of vintage aircraft in a hangar at company headquarters.

In March 1990, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would close the Long Beach, California, exhibit of the Spruce Goose. The Aeroclub of Southern California began looking for a new home for the historic aircraft. In 1992, the Evergreen Museum won the bid with a proposal to build a museum around the aircraft and feature it as a central exhibit.[1]

The disassembly of the aircraft began in August 1992. The parts were sent by ship up the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, and Willamette River to Dayton where it was transferred to trucks and driven to Evergreen International Aviation. It arrived in February 1993.[2] For the next eight years, the plane went through detailed restoration. Volunteers removed all the paint, replaced worn parts, and repainted the entire aircraft, among many other tasks.[3] In September 2000, the main aircraft assemblies were complete. The fuselage, wings, and tail were transported across the highway and into the new museum building, still under construction. Over the next year, crews assembled the wings and tail to the fuselage. These were completed in time for the museum's opening on June 6, 2001. The control surfaces (flaps, ailerons, rudder, and elevators) were assembled later. The last piece was put into place on December 7, 2001.

The name of the museum has evolved. Initially known as the Evergreen Museum, it changed in 1994 to the Evergreen AirVenture Museum. In 1997, the facility was renamed the Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational Center in memory of Smith, who died in an automobile accident in March 1995.

In September 2006, work began on the space museum building, a twin to the aviation museum. By this time, the museum had acquired several space-related items, and the original building was running out of room. The new building was completed in May 2008 and had its grand opening on June 6, 2008, exactly seven years after the aviation museum opened.[4] In 2009, the museum became an affiliate in the Smithsonian Affiliations program.[5]

Attempts to obtain a retired Space Shuttle were unsuccessful.[6]

In early 2016, Michael King Smith Foundation officials announced they were filing for bankruptcy. In July 2016, part of the land was purchased for $10.9 million by The Falls Event Center, a company owned by Steve Down with the Museums exhibits still fully operational.[7][8]


As of 2019, two exhibit centers are open to the public: The original structure is the aviation center with the Spruce Goose as centerpiece. Other aircraft, spanning the entire history of aviation, are arranged in the building, some parked under the wings of the Spruce Goose or suspended from the ceiling.

The space flight center is in a building the same size as the aviation center. Because there are fewer space-related holdings, the center includes a large number of panels and other displays that chronicle the history of space flight. Visitors can operate flight simulators for landing the space shuttle as well as for docking a Gemini capsule and performing a moon landing of the Lunar Excursion Module. The building also exhibits overflow holdings from the aviation center, usually the higher-performance jet aircraft.

Two of the main attractions of the space flight center are a Titan II missile and a SR-71 Blackbird.[9] The Titan II sits upright in a specially constructed display extending two stories below the floor, silo fashion. The exhibit includes a re-created missile control room furnished with furniture and equipment donated from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The museum's many volunteers include former aviators who flew the planes on display. Their detailed descriptions and real-life commentary help bring the planes and their days of flight back to life.[10] The museum also offers a number of film presentations on the development and use of the aircraft, along with hands-on displays demonstrating various principles of avionics.[11]

An F-15 Eagle is displayed on a pedestal in front of the EIA headquarters across the highway from the museum. A bronze statue stands by on the pathway between the aviation and space museum. Both are marked in Smith's memory.[12]

T-55 at Evergreen Aviation Museum
Kids climb on a Soviet T-55 behind the main building.

A smaller building has a seven-story IMAX theater. A radio control air flight field is located behind the aviation center, near a group of Soviet-built armored vehicles, including two T-34/85s, a T-55 and two armored personnel carriers.

Wings and Waves Waterpark

Evergreen Air and Space Museum water slide - McMinnville, Oregon
Exterior of the waterpark, showing the mounted Boeing 747-100

Wings & Waves Waterpark opened June 6, 2011.[13] The 71,350-square-foot (6,629 m2) waterpark, Oregon's largest, features 10 slides and a 91,703-gallon wave pool with the intent of tying into the educational focus of the Evergreen Museum Campus with its "Life Needs Water" interactive display in the H2O Children's Science Center.[14] The four big slides begin inside a retired Boeing 747-100 that sits atop the roof, 62 feet (19 m) above the splash landing.

The Waterpark was bought by The Falls Event Center in 2017, and is now run as a separate organization.

The Museum sued the waterpark for failing to make monthly payments in April 2018.[15]

Key holdings

SR-71 flight instruments.triddle
SR-71 instrument panel
Panorama of the museum, taken from under the wing of the Hercules

Also on display are many aircraft engines and helicopters, reflecting Evergreen Aviation's original helicopter fleet.

Hughes H-4 Evergreen Museum
90° panorama of the museum, including the Hughes H-4 Hercules, aka Spruce Goose

Former holdings


Spruce goose nose and engines

Nose, cockpit, and three starboard engines of the Spruce Goose

B-17G at Evergreen Museum

B-17G-95DL 44-83785

SR-71 fore-view Evergreen Museum

An SR-71 Blackbird under the wing of the Spruce Goose (taken before the SR-71 was moved to the new space building)

See also


  1. ^ Saarinen, Yvette (July 11, 1992). "Evergreen Wins Bid for Flying Boat". Yamhill Valley News-Register. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Pointer, Starla (September 14, 2000). "The Journey to Oregon". Yamhill Valley News-Register. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  3. ^ Dana Tims (November 1, 2006). "Honoring the historic Spruce Goose flight at Oregon museum". The Seattle Times.
  4. ^ Tertin, Ben (June 7, 2008). "Museum Launch a Soaring Success". Yamhill Valley News-Register. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  5. ^ Philip Jaeger (2009). "New Member Program". Blog. Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Siemers, Erik (April 12, 2011). "Evergreen Loses Bid For Space Shuttle". Portland Business Journal.
  7. ^ Staub, Colin (September 8, 2016). "Space museum, waterpark sold for $10.9 million". Pamplin Media Group.
  8. ^ Hammill, Luke (July 8, 2016). "Buyer Emerges For Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, once threatened by foreclosure". The Oregonian.
  9. ^ Traver, Sheldon (May 31, 2008). "Evergreen Aviation Museum welcomes Titan II exhibit". WillametteLive.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  10. ^ "Yamhill Valley Visitors Association: Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum".
  11. ^ "Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum: Teacher Resources".
  12. ^ "Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum: Captain Michael King Smith".
  13. ^ Pointer, Starla (June 4, 2011). "Counting Down To Splashdown". Yamhill Valley News-Register.
  14. ^ "Water Park Tops 50,000". Yamhill Valley News-Register. August 13, 2011.
  15. ^ Rogoway, Mike (April 10, 2018). "Evergreen Aviation museum sues adjacent waterpark". Oregon Live. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  16. ^ "Successful Completion of Underground Survey Services for Cartagena Refinery Expansion Project". Industrial-newsroom.com. December 30, 2010. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  17. ^ Bennett, Christopher W. (November 19, 2006). "Blackbird Timeline of Events 1990's & 00's". Retrieved July 20, 2008.
  18. ^ http://www.spacearchive.info/news-2006-09-26-laafb.htm
  19. ^ https://www.collingsfoundation.org/2015/12/b-17-flying-fortress-to-join-cf/


External links

Amerijet International

Amerijet International is an American cargo airline headquartered in Miami, Florida, United States. The airline delivers air freight with its fleet of B767-300/200 aircraft from its primary hub at the Miami International Airport to 38 destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. Their global network spans 476 destinations throughout the world, including Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East.

Beechcraft Starship

The Beechcraft Starship is a twin-turboprop six- to eight-passenger pressurized business aircraft produced by Beech Aircraft Corporation (now Textron Aviation).

Dayuan District

Dayuan District (Chinese: 大園區; pinyin: Dàyuán Qū), formerly known as Dayuan Township (Chinese: 大園鄉; pinyin: Dàyuán Xiāng) is a rural, coastal district in northwestern Taoyuan City, Taiwan (Republic of China).

Delford M. Smith

Delford Michael Smith (also known as Del Smith) was an American aviator and businessman from the state of Oregon. He was orphaned at birth and then adopted at a young age. Smith graduated from the University of Washington, and then served in the United States Air Force. Smith founded Evergreen Helicopters in 1960. This was the first of seven interrelated companies founded by Smith. All his companies were headquartered in McMinnville, Oregon. Later, Smith created the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, home of the Spruce Goose.

Evergreen Group

The Evergreen Group (Chinese: 長榮集團) is the organizational designation used by a Taiwan-based conglomerate of shipping, transportation, and associated service companies. The Evergreen Group arose in 1975 from the diversification of the original Evergreen Marine Corporation, which was established in 1968 and currently operates as the world's fourth largest containerized-freight shipping company. Today, the Evergreen Group encompasses the Evergreen Marine Corporation, Evergreen International Corporation, EVA Air, Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation, Evergreen Air Services Corporation, Evergreen Air Cargo Services Corporation, and Evergreen International Storage and Services Corporation. Additional divisions and subsidiaries exist within several Evergreen Group companies, such as Uniglory Shipping Corporation and Uni Air.

Evergreen International Aviation

Evergreen International Aviation, Inc. was a global aviation services company based in McMinnville, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1960, Evergreen was primarily known for commercial helicopter operations in agricultural and forestry applications. The airline division, Evergreen International Airlines, operated all-cargo Boeing 747 freighters. Evergreen ceased all aviation-related operations in 2013 due to financial challenges.

Foton (satellite)

Foton (or Photon) is the project name of two series of Russian science satellite and reentry vehicle programs. Although unmanned, the design was adapted from the manned Vostok spacecraft capsule. The primary focus of the Foton project is materials science research, but some missions have also carried experiments for other fields of research including biology. The original Foton series included 12 launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome from 1985 to 1999. The second series, under the name Foton-M, incorporates many design improvements over the original Foton, and is still in use. So far, there have been four launch attempts of the Foton-M. The first was in 2002 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which ended in failure due to a problem in the launch vehicle. The last three were from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in 2005, 2007, and 2014; all were successful. Both the Foton and Foton-M series used Soyuz-U (11A511U and 11A511U2) rockets as launch vehicles. Starting with the Foton-7 mission, the European Space Agency has been a partner in the Foton program.

Helicopter 66

Helicopter 66 is a United States Navy Sikorsky Sea King helicopter used during the late 1960s for the water recovery of astronauts during five missions of the Apollo program. It has been called "one of the most famous, or at least most iconic, helicopters in history", was the subject of a 1969 song by Manuela, and was made into a die-cast model by Dinky Toys. In addition to its work in support of NASA, Helicopter 66 also transported the Shah of Iran during his 1973 visit to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

Helicopter 66 was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1967 and formed part of the inventory of U.S. Navy Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four for the duration of its active life. Among its pilots during this period was Donald S. Jones, who would go on to command the United States Third Fleet. Later re-numbered Helicopter 740, the aircraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 1975 during a training exercise. At the time of its crash, it had logged more than 3,200 hours of service.

Hughes H-4 Hercules

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the Spruce Goose; registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced.

Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, the aircraft was nicknamed the Spruce Goose by critics, although it was made almost entirely of birch. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and it had the largest wingspan of any aircraft that had ever flown until the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch first flew on April 13, 2019. The aircraft remains in good condition. After having been displayed to the public in Long Beach, California, from 1980 to 1991, it is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.

Intermountain Aviation

Intermountain Airlines, also known as Intermountain Aviation and Intermountain Airways, was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) airline front company. Intermountain performed covert operations for the CIA in Southeast Asia and elsewhere during the Vietnam War era.

Intermountain's main base of operations was Marana Army Air Field near Tucson, Arizona. In 1975 it was acquired by Evergreen International Aviation, a company that has acknowledged connections with the CIA. Other CIA "proprietary" airlines such as Air America and Air Asia also operated out of Marana during the Vietnam War years.

One of Intermountain's covert missions was Project Coldfeet in which intelligence operatives were dropped in the Arctic to reconnoiter an abandoned Soviet drift station and then recovered using a Fulton Skyhook recovery system mounted on an Intermountain B-17 Flying Fortress. The modified B-17G, N809Z (now N207EV) and until August, 2017 could be seen at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon), had previously operated out of Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in an all-black scheme for the CIA for agent insertions and other unspecified covert operations in Southeast Asia.

Intermountain is alleged to have been involved in the delivery of a number of A-26 Invader bombers to be flown by Cuban exile pilots supporting the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

During its years in operation, Intermountain used several types of aircraft including the Curtiss C-46 Commando, the Lockheed L-188 Electra, the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou and DHC-6 Twin Otter, and a B-17 Flying Fortress which was outfitted with a Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, performed Arctic operations, and appeared at the end of the James Bond film Thunderball.

McMinnville, Oregon

McMinnville is the county seat of and largest city in Yamhill County, Oregon, United States. According to Oregon Geographic Names, it was named by its founder, William T. Newby (1820–1884), an early immigrant on the Oregon Trail, for his hometown of McMinnville, Tennessee. As of the 2017 census, the city had a population of 34,347.

McMinnville is at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Yamhill River in the Willamette Valley. The city is home to Oregon Mutual Insurance Company, Linfield College, Cascade Steel (a Schnitzer Steel Industries company), Organic Valley creamery, Wings and Waves Waterpark, Joe Dancer Park, and Evergreen Aviation Museum, home of Howard Hughes' famed Spruce Goose flying boat.

McMinnville Municipal Airport

McMinnville Municipal Airport (ICAO: KMMV, FAA LID: MMV) is three miles southeast of McMinnville, in Yamhill County, Oregon. The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2009–2013 categorized it as a general aviation facility. It is across Oregon Route 18 from the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home to the Hughes H-4 Hercules or Spruce Goose.

Many U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, but this airport is MMV to the FAA and has no IATA code.West Coast DC-3s flew to McMinnville for a few years starting in 1947.

Norman Surplus

Norman Surplus (born 1963) is a Northern Irish pilot, who became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in an autogyro, nicknamed "Roxy". His trip began in 2010 and ended on 28 June 2019. In 2010, during the first leg of his trip, Surplus flew over Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America. In June 2015, Surplus commenced the second leg of his journey by flying through the United States and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to eventually land in Larne, Northern Ireland in August 2015, becoming the first person to cross the Atlantic in an autogyro. In 2019, he completed the last leg of his journey when he finally obtained permission from the Russian Federation to fly through its airspace. He left Ireland on Easter Monday in 2019, and flew through Russia to eventually reach the United States and land at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon completing his circumnavigation of the globe in an autogyro. Surplus's AutoGyro MT-03 is currently displayed at the EAA Aviation Museum and will remain there for the duration of AirVenture 2020. Surplus took nine years to complete his journey around the world, and flew over 32 countries, over a total distance of 27,000 miles (43,000 km). In a 2015 interview with the CBC, while on a stopover at Iqaluit, Canada, Surplus mentioned that the trip should have taken approximately four months but the problems with obtaining permission to fly over Russia, which persisted for three years, derailed his plans.

Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum

The Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum is a non-profit aviation museum located in Southern Colorado. It was founded in the mid-1970s by former Pueblo City Manager Fred Weisbrod. The museum is made up of two hangars that were built in 2005 and 2011 respectively. The hangars house several of the museum's aircraft along with thousands of artifacts dating from World War One, all the way up to modern day. PWAM is also home to the International B-24 Memorial Museum and the Southern Colorado Space Museum and Learning Center. There are several historic military vehicles in the museum's collection, many of which are still in operational condition. The museum is located six miles east of Pueblo, Colorado on US Highway 50 at the Pueblo Memorial Airport, occupying space on what was the Pueblo Army Air Base during World War II. It is managed and maintained by the Pueblo Historical Aircraft Society.

The museum's collection includes around forty military and civilian aircraft, as well as several military vehicles. The museum also hosts periodic open cockpit days and fly ins at the neighboring Pueblo Memorial Airport. PWAM also houses an extensive collection of books and research material in the museum's library. The museum is run by a volunteer staff of men and women who provide tours, run the gift shop and do aircraft restoration and maintenance.

Skylab B

Skylab B was a proposed second US space station similar to Skylab that was planned to be launched by NASA for different purposes, mostly involving the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, but was canceled due to lack of funding. Two Skylab modules were built in 1970 by McDonnell Douglas for the Skylab program, originally the Apollo Applications Program. The first was launched in 1973 and the other put in storage, while NASA considered how to use the remaining assets from Apollo.

One considered option was to use Saturn V SA-515 to launch the backup Skylab station into orbit sometime between January 1975 and April 1976. That way, it could expand the Apollo-Soyuz mission by 56–90 days.

Further proposals were made for an International Skylab, launched using Saturn V SA-514. This station would have been serviced by Apollo, Soyuz and later by the Space Shuttle.

Steve Down

Steve Down is a Utah-based entrepreneur and business owner. He is best known as the founder of The Falls Event Center.

Titan 23G

The Titan 23G, Titan II(23)G, Titan 2(23)G or Titan II SLV was an American expendable launch system derived from the LGM-25C Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile. Retired Titan II missiles were converted by Martin Marietta, into which the Glenn L. Martin Company, which built the original Titan II, had merged. It was used to carry payloads for the United States Air Force, NASA and NOAA. Thirteen were launched from Space Launch Complex 4W at the Vandenberg Air Force Base between 1988 and 2003.Titan 23G rockets consisted of two stages burning liquid propellant. The first stage was powered by one Aerojet LR87 engine with two combustion chambers and nozzles, and the second stage was propelled by an LR91. On some flights, solid upper stages were flown, usually the Star-37XFP-ISS; however, the Star-37S was also used.A contract to refurbish fourteen Titan II missiles to the Titan 23G configuration was awarded to Martin Marietta in January 1986. The first launch occurred on 5 September 1988, carrying a classified payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office. Thirteen were launched, with the fourteenth going to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The final flight occurred on 17 October 2003, carrying a DMSP satellite.During refurbishment, the forward structure of the second stage was modified with the addition of a payload attachment fitting to attach the payload to the rocket, and installing a payload fairing to protect it during launch. The engines were refurbished, and the rockets' guidance and control systems were upgraded by Delco Electronics.

The former Titan IIIB pad at Vandenberg, SLC-4W, was modified to accommodate the Titan 23G, and was used for all thirteen launches.

Tourism in Portland, Oregon

Tourism in Portland, Oregon is a profitable industry that serves many. In 2018, Portland area tourism generated $5.3 billion in direct spending by 8.6 million overnight person-trips and employs 36,360 people who were paid $1.5 billion.The city contains a wide variety of tourist attractions. The Washington Square and Pioneer Place are major shopping destinations. The Portland Art Museum, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art offer cultural, historic, and modern art. Technological, industrial, and scientific exhibits are found at the Oregon Museum Science and Industry. The Oregon Zoo is an animal reserve. The Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Hollywood Theatre are entertainment halls. Keller Fountain Park, Forest Park, and Portland Japanese Garden are natural parks. Memorials include the Oregon Holocaust Memorial and the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Destinations near the area include the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, Multnomah Falls, Trillium Lake, and Mount Hood. Events include the Oregon International Air Show, Portland Rose Festival, and the Portland International Auto Show.

Wayne Handley

Wayne Handley (born March 26, 1939 in Carmel, California) is an American airshow performer, former naval aviator, agricultural pilot, Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE), and coach for upcoming and current airshow stars. Handley and his wife Karen are former residents of the Salinas Valley of California, who currently reside in Groveland, California.

Handley’s father wouldn’t allow him to fly while living under his roof, but in 1957, while attending Hartnell College in Salinas, Handley got in touch with the campus flying club, and took his first lesson in an Aeronca 7AC Champion. Two years later, he had 70 hours in his logbook, left College and enlisted in the US Navy. He trained through propeller-driven aircraft up into the Grumman F9F Cougar and F-11 Tiger carrier-based fighters. In 1963, when faced with the choice of either transitioning into the F-4 Phantom or taking an aerial application job back at home, he chose to be with his family, and started flying agricultural operations in fixed wing aircraft and rotorcraft. Handley began flying aerobatics after taking ownership of a Pitts S-1C in the early 1980s, and entered his first International Aerobatic Club contest in 1983.In 2015, with over 27,000 hours of flight time logged, Handley is a highly respected, record-setting aviator who received the California Agricultural Aircraft Association's Outstanding Airman Award in 1985; the International Aerobatic Club named him the California Unlimited Aerobatic Champion also in 1985, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship in 1996, the Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award in 1997, the Crystal Eagle Award in 2000, and the International Council of Airshows Sword of Excellence in 2001, and induction into the International Council of Airshows Airshow Hall of Fame. In 1989, he set the world records for inverted flat spins, with 67 consecutive revolutions. In April 1999, he beat his own record, with 78 rotations flying a Giles G-202. In 1999, he also set multiple time-to-climb records in his Turbo Raven.

On the airshow circuit, he initially flew a Pitts Special biplane in an act that he called Agrobatics in which he merged some of the techniques that an agricultural pilot might employ while applying chemicals to crops with his own graceful style of aerobatic flying. He would fly under a ribbon stretched between two poles which simulated power lines; afterwards he performed an inverted cut of that ribbon using his propeller. After a few years in the Pitts, he started work on a one-of-a-kind aircraft which would be known as the Raven.

The Raven is a composite monoplane with a unique paint scheme that paid tribute to the bird species Corvus corax, which has been observed performing aerobatics apparently for fun. Registered as a Kraska Rebel 2300 homebuilt aircraft (N711WH), Handley modified the design with a wing designed for the Zivko Edge 540, and many other custom details such that the Raven was a one-of-a-kind aircraft of Handley's design. The Raven was capable of +/-16G, over 380 degrees per second roll rate, a 4,000-foot (1,200 m) per minute rate of climb, stunning tumbles, torque rolls, tailslides, and any other maneuver Handley could create. This aircraft performed for airshow crowds for over a decade up until August 2005, when it was retired to the Evergreen Aviation Museum.

In 1998, with sponsorship by Oracle, he set out to create the Oracle Turbo Raven, which was the world’s only aerobatic aircraft with a thrust-to-weight ratio higher than one (more thrust than weight). He teamed up with Richard Giles of AkroTech Aviation, and AgAir Systems, and the Oracle Turbo Raven was built and registered as a Giles G-750 (N17HE). The composite airframe was based on the Giles G-202 design, with an empty weight of 1,600 pounds (725 kg). It was fitted with a 750 horsepower (560 kW) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C turboprop that generated 2,800 pounds (12,500 N) of thrust, which gave the aircraft a power loading of less than 2.7 lb/hp at ready-to-fly weights. With this power loading, the Oracle Turbo Raven could fly straight up, hover in mid-air, back up, stop, and then accelerate straight up out of the hover. The aircraft also had enough power that it could recover from flat spins simply by flying out of them with the nose still on the horizon. The aircraft had a maximum speed of 300 mph (480 km/h) and a roll rate of 450 degrees per second.

On January 20, 1999, Handley once again got into the record books by flying the Turbo Raven from brake release to 3,000 meters in one minute and nine seconds. In July 1999 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the Turbo Raven took three minutes, six seconds to get to 6,000 meters, and established the Turbo Raven as the fastest-climbing propeller-driven aircraft in the world. This aircraft was also able to reverse the pitch of its propeller blades in flight, and could actually slow down while diving towards the ground; Handley used this ability to make very steep approaches to land, as well as for unique maneuvers where he could slow below stall speed while diving. On October 3, 1999, exactly one year to the day after its debut, the Turbo Raven was destroyed after the engine failed to deliver power during one such approach at the California International Airshow at Salinas Municipal Airport, and Handley was unable to accelerate above stall speed with the propeller in reverse pitch. He was seriously injured, but made a full recovery, and was flying within a month after the accident.

Handley continues to train, coach, and evaluate aerobatic students and airshow pilots from the ground and in flight as well as presenting safety seminars on spins and unusual attitudes.


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