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Fri, Jun 24, 2022

Mothballed Evergreen 747 Goes on the Block

Going Once, Going Twice …

McMinnville, Oregon—famed UFO hotbed and Spruce Goose roost—will host a unique foreclosure auction.

The property in question is neither a house, nor an automobile, nor even a collection of Richard Nixon campaign buttons; rather it’s a derelict Boeing 747 that’s been parked in front of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum for eight years.

McMinnville Properties, an outfit controlled by wine entrepreneur Bill Stoller—who also owns the museum—seeks to acquire the airplane. The company filed suit last October against the 747’s owner, a Kansas City aircraft parts and leasing operation called Jet Midwest, which bought the aircraft in 2014 after Evergreen International Aviation filed bankruptcy.

The 747 and the museum are legacies of the defunct carrier and its colorful founder, Del Smith. Evergreen, which in its heyday operated passenger, cargo, and governmental support operations in 168 countries, was formerly a major employer in the McMinnville area.

The museum founded by Smith is best known as the home of the Spruce Goose, the enormous aircraft conceived of and flown—once—by renegade designer, aviation maverick, and storied lunatic, Howard Hughes.

Financial hardship in the wake of Evergreen’s bankruptcy and Smith’s death compelled one of the museum’s former owners to begin selling off valuable aircraft to raise operating capital.

Stoller, who grew up near McMinnville, purchased the museum in April 2020 and has since acquired additional buildings on the site and the adjoining vineyards.

The suit brought by McMinnville Properties against Jet Midwest and two additional companies seeks immediate payment of more than $587,000 in storage fees, interest and other charges levied against the neglected 747. The court-ordered foreclosure sale affords McMinnville Properties opportunity to gain ownership of the jet.

Asked what the company might do with the 747, Stoller Group President Wayne Marschall replied, “I don’t know. It has no engines; flying off into the sunset isn’t an option.”

Marschall concedes there's a possibility the airplane could remain in place. “The thing has been parked for so long in front of the museum it’s become a bit of a landmark,” he said.

FMI: www.evergreenmuseum.org

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