Higher, Faster, Farther

22 12 2011

By Stewart Bailey, Curator

As one stands before the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and looks at its sleek lines and dark continence, it’s hard to believe that the aircraft is both the world’s fastest, highest-flying production aircraft, and forty seven years old.  Even more amazing is the fact that this record setting aircraft has been retired for the last twelve of those forty seven years.  In an age that seems to strive for the biggest, fastest, and best, it seems strange that such a superlative aircraft can now only be found in museums.  However, the Blackbird, like its speedy commercial sister, the Concorde are now only relics of the past, able to out run sound (and the Sun), but not the budget cutter’s pen.


The SR-71 first took to the skies on December 22, 1964 and its flight was the culmination of an eight year effort to initially create an aircraft that could penetrate Soviet air space and be hard to detect on radar.  While it didn’t do the former, it certainly was the latter, which made it one of the first practical stealth aircraft.  The Blackbird’s genesis came about because of growing complaints from the Soviet Union about over-flights by CIA operated U-2 spy planes.   In 1956, the CIA approached Lockheed and Convair about designing an aircraft that had a lower radar profile than the U-2, which could operate 2 miles higher and four times faster.   The Lockheed design, dubbed A-12 was selected.  Radically different from the U-2, the A-12 was a twin-engine, single seat machine with a shallow fuselage that blended into a large delta shaped wing.  The A-12, which first flew in 1962 looked almost identical to the later SR-71, the main visible difference being that the A-12 only had one crewman.  Under the code name of “Oxcart” a total of 18 A-12s were built including 3 YF-12s to be high altitude interceptors, and 2 M-21s that were used to carry the Lockheed D-21 drone.


Although the A-12s did fly operationally, they were quickly replaced when the much more capable SR-71 Blackbird began operations in 1968.  The reconnaissance mission was taken over by the Air Force, and for the next three decades, the Blackbird would rule the skies as the highest flying, fastest production, manned aircraft ever built.  Other manned aircraft like the rocket-powered X-15 would fly higher, and unmanned aircraft like the X-43 have flown faster, but none of these were more than experimental machines that pushed the envelope of height and speed.  Only the SR-71, built in a production run of 32 machines, worked in the sky above 80,000 feet and at speeds approaching Mach 3.3, on a regular basis.


While the story of the SR-71 can only be told in superlatives when it comes to performance and the engineering challenges that had to be overcome, it is important to remember that the SR-71 remained un-challenged during its career; not by other aircraft or by the defenses arrayed against it.  It is estimated that over 1000 missiles were fired at Blackbirds from both the ground and Soviet interceptors, and not one ever came close.  All the Blackbird pilot had to do was push the throttles a little farther forward and just accelerate away from them.  And too, while 12 SR-71s were lost in accidents, only one man; Jim Zwayer from Lockheed ever lost his life in a Blackbird accident.  All other crews were able to eject or walk away from the wreck.


Thus it leaves one to wonder, if there is nothing before or since that has been able to come close to the Blackbird’s performance, why isn’t the aircraft still flying?  Sadly, the answer is the politics of money.  Despite being retired in 1989, and reactivated in 1995, groups within the Air Force wanted to ground the aircraft so that funds could be directed into programs including the B-1 Lancer, the B-2 Spirit and a variety of unmanned reconnaissance platforms.  The argument given was that satellites could do the job just as well, and UAVs would soon be able to take over to take over the rapid response aspect of the Blackbird’s mission.  Unfortunately, satellites were not the answer as they are both predictable in their orbits, giving the opposition time to hide what they wanted to keep hidden before the satellite passed by, and the cannot change orbit without enormous cost in fuel.  They simply cannot respond fast enough for a “surprise” inspection.  And UAVs, while they have proven themselves to be extremely effective, they can be shot down, or captured as shown by the recent incident in Iran.  But, in 1997, President Clinton used a line-item veto to cut funds for the SR-71 and its mission was over.  With the exception of three SR-71s that flew for NASA through the end of 1999, the story of the superlative aircraft was done.


Today, twenty of the these magnificent aircraft survive in museums around the US and England.  The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is pleased to be able to display an SR-71A Blackbird, #61-7971, along with its engines, many of the reconnaissance and defensive electronics systems that were integral to the aircraft’s mission and some of its ground support equipment.  Together, they tell the story of this unique machine that remains the highest, fastest, manned production aircraft ever built.Image


Air Raid: America

10 09 2011

By Curator, Stewart Bailey

While it is well known that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and occupied the islands of Kiska and Attu in the Aleutians Islands of Alaska, few people know that Japan made one more air raid on US soil, attacking of all places: Brookings, Oregon!  This raid took place on September 9th, 1942 and while few remember it today, it was a major undertaking that risked many lives on both sides.

Despite early success in the first six months of their war against the US in World War II, the Japanese were frustrated by set-backs that they suffered in the summer of 1942.  The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April had been a major surprise and the defeats at the Battle of Coral Sea in May and Midway in June left the Imperial Japanese Navy in chaos.  They needed to strike back at America, and needed to come up with something quick.  Their plan?  Attack America’s vast natural resources using aircraft launched from submarines.

When the submarine I-25 left Japan in August 1942 on its fourth war patrol, it headed for the west coast of the US carrying a small observation plane in a tubular hangar on its deck.  The single engine aircraft was a Yokosuka E14Y floatplane, which the Allies had codenamed “Glen.”  It was built with the I-series submarines in mind and was broken down into 12 sub-assemblies that could be put together very quickly.  Normally only used to find targets distant for the submarine to attack, on this mission the E14Y would carry bombs.

The pilot selected for the mission was Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita, an Imperial Navy pilot with nine years of experience including combat in China, and service as a test pilot under Lt. Minoru Genda; the man that planned the Pearl Harbor attack.  Fujita, having flown a number of reconnaissance missions from submarines early in the war, made the suggestion that if the float plane could be equipped with bombs, perhaps they could add to the havoc created by a submarine’s attack on surface ships, or perhaps even attack the Panama Canal.  His suggestion made it up the chain of command until it reached the desk of an admiral who saw the brilliance of the idea, and knew just the target; the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Patrolling off the Oregon coast in the pre-dawn hours of September, 9, Commander Meiji Tagami, the captain of submarine I-25, spotted the light from the lighthouse at Cape Blanco, Oregon.  Amazed that in a time of war, the Americans would leave a light on that could aid enemy ships; he smiled at his good luck.  He quickly ordered the boat to the surface, and sent the crew out to extract the E14Y.  Working in silence, they pulled the aircraft from the hangar with ropes until its moving dolly rested on the catapult rails built into the deck.  They quickly attached the wings, tail, rudder and pontoons while Fujita tested the engine.  With everything working properly, he and his observer Shoji Okuda launched eastward into the rising sun.

Because the little airplane was burdened with two 154 pound bombs, it could only make a speed of 100 mph and Fujita feared that they would be discovered by the American defenses.  Not wanting to risk detection, he flew approximately 50 miles to a point a few miles outside of Brookings, and ordered Okuda to release a bomb.  As he watched, Fujita saw the bomb hit.  As he said in a postwar interview, “Our bomb hit and burst, splashing a brilliant white light over the earthscape. Good! I thought.  I had been moored near Chitose [a seaplane tender] at Yokosuka when one of Doolittle’s bombers hit her, killing some men.  Now I was returning the enemy’s attack.”  Ten minutes later, he ordered the second bomb dropped then headed back to the I-25.

The bombs that Fujita had dropped were each equipped with 512 incendiary “bomblets” that were to scatter on impact to start a circle of fire, 200 feet across.  Each bomblet burned at a temperature of 2000 degrees F.  Fujita had been instructed to drop them far from inhabited areas so that it would take fire fighters a while to arrive, thus allowing the blazes to develop into large scale forest fires and spread panic.  But the actual results were far less spectacular.

Fire lookout Howard Gardner, stationed on Mt. Emily in the Siskiyou National Forest, heard Fujita’s plane fly over, saw the plume of smoke from the fire and quickly called it in to the dispatch office.  Along with Keith Johnson, a spotter from another station, Gardner went to the site and worked to contain the fire.  Fortunately for them, not all the bomblets had exploded and recent rains had kept the ground damp, blocking the fire’s spread.  The two were able to keep the fire under control until a fire crew arrived the next morning.  As for the second bomb, no trace was found.

Upon return to the I-25, Fujita reported on his mission and also reported the sighting of two merchant ships north of the sub’s position.  The aircraft was quickly disassembled as the submarine started north.  However, just after the plane was stowed, an American A-29 Hudson arrived to make an attack on the sub.  The Hudson dropped two bombs which missed, but the sub dove and remained submerged for the rest of the day.  Later in the patrol, on September 29, the I-25 found itself back off of Cape Blanco and Cdr. Tagami decided to launch another raid.  Once more, Fujita flew off to deliver two bombs near Port Orford, but neither succeeded in starting a fire.

In 1962, Nobuo Fujita returned to Brookings, Oregon; this time as a guest, to be the Grand Marshall of the Azalea Festival Parade.  He presented his Samurai sword to the city, where it remains today on display in the Brookings Library.  He also returned several more times, including a 1992 visit to plant a tree at the bombing site as a gesture of peace on the 50th anniversary of the attack.  Nobuo Fujita died in 1997, and some of his ashes were buried at the site of the bombing.  His two air raids were the last time the mainland US was attacked until the terror strikes of September 11, 2001.

Evergreen First Class Cooking: Summertime Grilling

13 08 2011

By Executive Chef, David White


It’s Summer time!  Fire up your grill and let the festivities begin.  For many Americans summer signifies outdoor activities like conducting a picnic or firing up the barbecue.   Many people who think of the word “barbecue” envision cooking hamburgers and hotdogs, but it is so much more than that.  This summer is full of surprises, so why not surprise your family and friends with a delicious Beef Tri-Tip.


Now don’t get me wrong, most people would agree that a hamburger would satisfy their appetite, but with the summer in full swing add some flavor to your grill.  Tri-tip is a great choice and the perfect entree if you are hosting a small party of 6-8 or even for your family of four; the leftovers will make a delicious sandwich.  The tri-tip cut comes from the Bottom Sirloin of the cow and is of moderate tenderness and marbling.  The cut started to gain popularity in the 1950’s on the Central California Coast, and has grown in national popularity since. Generally tri-tip’s in your local grocery store range in size from 1 ½ – 2 ½ pounds and in price from $4.50-$6.50/lb. Keep an eye out for summer sales and specials to save you a few dollars.


Tri-Tip is not only known for its savory taste, but is also recognized for its size. Usually a tri-tip will be about 2 inches thick allowing for a wonderful, juicy medium rare roast.  Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the meat; it could take anywhere from 20-30 min to cook depending on your preference. For myself, I prefer   kosher salt & cracked pepper as the seasoning.  Don’t limit yourself to my tastings, be creative and try different seasonings, there are several various spice blends in your local supermarket.  After you take it off the grill allow the meat to rest about 5 min before slicing.  As a side dish, tri-tip will go well with any of these options, coleslaw, macaroni salad, creamy mac & cheese, baked beans or potato salad.


Tri-Tip is an excellent addition to your summer cooking plans.  It is a great choice that will satisfy your friends and family on a budget.  Break away from the hamburgers and hotdogs and start a new tradition this summer


Summer Time Tri-Tip


1 ea – Beef Tri-Tip Roast 1 ½-2 ½ lbs

2 tbsp – Salt, Kosher or Sea Salt

2 tsp – Fresh Cracked Pepper



Mix salt & pepper and rub over roast. Let roast sit for 1-2 hrs, not in refrigerator. Light grill outside. Keep on high if using a gas grill or have coals mostly to one side if using charcoal grill. After grill is hot place roast on hottest section of grill. After 5 min turn roast over and grill for another 5 min. Now, turn down gas grill to med-low or place roast on the side with less coals and cook for about 10 min. Turn roast over and cook for another 10 min or when roast is at desired temperature,120 F for rare to 165 F for well. Take roast off grill and allow it to rest for approx. 5 min.  Slice the roast against the grain of the meat for most tender taste.  Serve immediately with your favorite sides and drink.




Evergreen’s Mystery Lady

28 07 2011

By Stewart Bailey, Curator


July 28 marks the “birthday” of one of the most iconic aircraft in history, and one of the stars of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum collection; the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.  On that day, in 1936 the Boeing Model 299, the prototype of what was to become the B-17 first took to the air at Boeing Field in Washington with Boeing chief test pilot, Leslie Tower at the controls.

Out of the 12,731 B-17s built by Boeing, Lockheed-Vega, and Douglas, today only 58 aircraft remain in museums or private collections around the world.  Of those, one of the most unique and mysterious belongs to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.  Although marked with the serial number 44-83785, there is some question as to whether that is its true serial or not, and many aviation historians believe the aircraft is really serial number 44-85531.  Why the confusion?  That’s what makes her story mysterious.

Evergreen’s B-17 was a G-model built by either Lockheed-Vega or Douglas in early 1945 and never made it into combat, but rather it served in various utility roles until the mid-1950s.  At that point, her story gets interesting as she was selected for “secret duties” and removed from the Air Force’s inventory. One of a group of five black-painted Flying Fortresses used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it operated out of Taiwan, where it was used to drop agents into China or support guerilla operations.

B-17 in Taiwan

Because the serial numbers painted on the tails were changed regularly to confuse the casual observer, her real one has been lost to history.  However, in September 1960, she gained the civilian registration number N809Z when she was sold to Atlantic-General Enterprises; a CIA front company.  From there she went to work for Intermountain Airways in Marana, Arizona in 1962.

Intermountain (also with CIA ties) was well known for modifying aircraft for use in specialized operations and the B-17G was no different.  Outfitted with a special rig on the nose called a Fulton Skyhook and a special hatch in the tail, the Fortress was actually able to pick up people from the ground without landing!  The user on the ground would release a helium balloon trailing a long cable that was attached to a special harness he wore.  The aircraft would then catch the line using long, whisker-like poles on the nose, and snatch the person off the ground where they would be winched up and into the plane.  In 1962, the Skyhook equipped Fortress was called upon to fly a mission deep into the arctic to grab vital information out from under the noses of the Soviet Union.

Fulton Sky Hook

Evergreen’s B-17 with Fulton Recovery System in place. (Robert Fulton photo)

After her work with the Fulton Skyhook, N809Z was converted into a flying tanker used by Intermountain Airways to fight forest fires in the western US. She was acquired by Evergreen Helicopters in 1975, and given a new registration; N207EV, which she wears to this day.  After 10 years of fighting fires, work began in 1985 to restore the venerable Flying Fortress was back to the war-time configuration with all of the gun turrets and a working bomb bay.  (The story is told that her rare nose turret was found as a decoration in a bar, but the owner was unwilling to sell it, so Evergreen bought the bar, removed the turret, and then re-sold the bar.)  The proudly restored B-17 took to the air again in 1990 and flew in numerous air shows until 2001 when concerns about the wing spar attachment points grounded her.

Evergreen’s B-17, Tanker 22, fighting a wild fire.

Today, the Evergreen B-17G Flying Fortress shares a place of honor in the museum, wearing the markings of the 490th Bomb Group, operating out of Eye air base in England during World War II.  As such, she is a fitting tribute to the men in women who built, maintained and flew the majestic Flying Fortress.

Evergreen's B-17

Civil Air Patrol Business Academy 2011

27 07 2011

By Robert Jordan, Education Coordinator

From July 9th to the 16th, Civil Air Patrol cadets from across the country traveled to the Evergreen Aviation & Space museum, and the new Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark to attend the fourth annual Civil Air Patrol Captain Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Business Academy.

Every year in July, Civil Air Patrol students interested in an opportunity to see how an aviation-based world-class business is run and witness aviation business first hand. The MKS Business Academy provides the cadets with basic leadership, teamwork, resource management, and business fundamentals and skills that provide a framework for the cadets to start developing as leaders, and real-world thinkers.

The training is developed following leadership and business standards that are aligned with academic standards at the high school and college level. This rigorous and relevant curriculum provides the cadets with pertinent skills that can be applied to any area of their development (personal, academic, career) and the cadets continue to implement these skills, which will last them a lifetime.

Be Prepared for Camping Season Scouts!

15 07 2011

By Matthew Van Dixon, Director of Education

It is summertime again, and that means camping season! It is a time where families can fill their photo albums with memorable camp experiences. It is a time where children head off to week-long wilderness camps and come back with new fond memories and handful of newly developed friendships.

Camping season means more to some folks than others. For example, take the Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts, throughout the fall and winter seasons, long for this time of year, because it gives

them a chance to show off their newly developed skills they gained in their merit badge courses, and it is a time when they can earn a few more.

The Boy Scout motto declares, you must always be prepared, so our Education Department came up with some useful suggestions to assist scouts in preparing for their camping trips. Here is a list of to-do’s that will ensure your troop’s camping experience is safe, organized, and most of all, fun!

Pack proper clothing:

Be sure to bring a variety of clothing options: shorts, pants, sweats, long-sleeve shirts, short s

leeve shirts, jackets, etc. If the weather is warm, shorts will be fine but if you have some hiking planned, take along a pair of long pants, because you can easily scrape your legs on protruding limbs along the way.

Evenings might be chilly so bring a sweatshirt or light jacket, because in Oregon, rain is always a daily possibility. If rain is in the forecast or you might want to invest in a rain poncho. It is lightweight and durable. They offer the best overall protection from the elements and allow the highest degree of maneuverability, and they don’t take up much space when packing.

If hiking is planned, take several extra pairs of socks. During hiking, if your feet sweat, you can change into a dry pair of socks, keeping your feet as comfortable as possible. Also bring comfortable shoes, boots or sneakers, or one of each, to ensure you are prepared for the terrain you decide to explore in.

If you will be near a swimming hole or lake, don’t forget those beach towels, swim trunks and most importantly, sunscreen.

Be sure to pack a lot of water.

Food & food storage:

Be sure you pack a lot of water. On those long hikes, it is necessary to hydrate yourself properly. You can never have too much fresh water on a camping trip.

No matter if it is a short camping trip or long amount of time; you don’t want to take foods that will spoil easily. Meat products tend to quickly spoil. Peanut butter, nut bars, and good old pork & beans are great substitutes for protein.

Fresh fruits aren’t good items to take, unless you plan on eating them in a day or two. They also spoil quickly and are heavy and bulky to pack. There is a way, however, for you to have your fruits and vegetables. If you are able to dehydrate your fruits and vegetables, they stay fresh and still retain all those vital nutrients.

Probably the best foods to take while you’re camping would be ones with lots of carbohydrates, because carbohydrates keep your energy level up and activates your metabolism; and soup, of any kind, offer a simple and tasty meal. Sandwiches are great for a quick lunch or snack, but if you’ve ever been camping, you know that bread can become moldy if moisture sets in.

Just remember, when picking out your food you must remember that you’re carrying it in with you and your carrying it out with you.

 yummy s'moresYou want to make sure you also pack a fun and tasty treat; there is nothing like a gooey melting s’more to devour.

Just as important as what to bring to eat and drink, is where can you store your food. A cooler packed with ice cubes or cold packs will keep things properly chilled for several days.

If you are camping for the weekend, that is probably enough time. If you are near a river or stream, you can put canned drinks and juices actually in the water. Or if you have a watertight food chest, you can submerge the entire chest in the water. Just be sure you anchor it properly so it doesn’t float down stream; that has actually happened to me before, it was seriously fast food!

If you don’t have an ice chest, you can choose from a variety of freeze dried foods that need only be prepared with water.


The tent is the focal point of most camping trips and pitching a tent is what I consider the most fun activity of the overall camping experience. If you’re a beginning camper, there are a variety of different tent options for you to consider.

First and foremost, you should practice pitching your tent before you actually get out to your campsite. Try pitching it up in your yard at home, it is good practice, and being able to do it quickly and effectively is extremely valuable. When looking for a place to pitch your tent, always look for soft, flat soil, somewhat of a “natural” bed of ground – and avoid the bottom of hills or valleys, that is where the remnants of erosion and falling rocks are. It is always smart to set up a waterproof tarp below your tent to avoid potential damage to your tent or absorption into your sleeping bag!

One last bit of advice for scout campers. No matter where you go, or the places you see, take lots of pictures, leave lots of footprints, and remember that summer camping is a magical time of your life, so embrace it!

Scouting the Future

23 03 2011

By Stewart Bailey, Curator

To the drug runners, their night couldn’t be going better. They’d made their rendezvous with the fishing vessel and were loading their cargo of cocaine aboard the speed boat for a fast dash to shore, where dealers were waiting to put the “product” onto U.S. streets. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they were surrounded by a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement team and a U.S. Navy frigate that appeared like phantoms out of the dark. With thoughts of “how did they find us?” rushing through their heads, they started dumping cargo, but the gesture was futile as they had been caught in the act. Everything was caught on tape by a silent spy.

Sound like something out of a police drama on television? It could have been, but this scenario actually did take place on April 3, 2010, when the USS McInerney, a U.S. Navy frigate successfully intercepted drug smugglers attempting to move over 200 kilos of cocaine off the coast of California.  They had tracked the drug runners in their speed boat for more than three hours and moved in to make the bust when they met up with their supplier aboard the fishing boat.  And the silent spy that made it possible? It was a new type of robot aircraft named the Fire Scout.

The Fire Scout is one of the new breed of robotic warriors that is currently in development for the Navy to be used on its new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) to fight the wars of the future. Designed to operate from any ship that has a flight deck, the Fire Scout can engage in many of the simple activities currently assigned to SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and free them up for tasks best done by manned helicopters. The Fire Scout is autonomous, and doesn’t need a pilot to constantly guide it like many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), although it can be remotely flown by a human as was the case with the McInerney’s drug bust.

Originally created in the late 1990s to replace the first generation of Navy UAVs, the RQ-8A Fire Scout was created by Teledyne-Ryan and Schweizer Aircraft, based on the airframe of a three-passenger Schweizer 330SJ civilian helicopter, with a new fuselage, fuel system and electronics. A sensor turret built by FLIR Systems was later added and the new UAV made its first flight in January 2000. The control system, which is small enough to be installed in a HUMMV (“Hummer”) for shore-based operations can be linked with a high flying RQ-4 Global Hawk (also a UAV) to give the Fire Scout an operating range of up to 172 miles from base. In 2006, an RQ-8A demonstrated its capabilities by landing without human control on a moving ship, the USS Nashville, as it maneuvered at speeds of up to 17mph off the coast of Maryland.

A total of five RQ-8As were built, before the Navy gave the go ahead to begin production on the MQ-8B; an armed version of the Fire Scout that utilized a four-bladed rotor for increased performance and quieter operations. Production of the new MQ-8B began in 2006 at the Northrop’s facility in Moss Point, Mississippi, and in 2009 the first two B-model Fire Scouts were assigned to sea duty aboard the McInerney. It was during a test flight of the Fire Scout that its operators discovered and received permission to track the drug smugglers, using the UAV’s state-of-the-art optics to track the boat from a distance where the helicopter could not be seen or heard. The MQ-8B had proven it was a robot to be reckoned with.

For the A-model Fire Scout, their usefulness came to an end in December 2008. Of the five RQ-8As built, one was destroyed in an accident and one damaged beyond repair when it was dropped aboard a ship, and the other three were sent to the National Museum of Naval Aviation. It should have been the end of the story, except for an odd twist of fate. The fifth RQ-8Abuilt; the one damaged beyond repair, was set to be scrapped but instead was put up for acquisition by the Government Services Administration (GSA), where it was spotted by a Federal Surplus agent in Salem, Oregon. Shortly after, he alerted the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the UAV was on its way to a new home instead of the scrap heap.

Looking a bit worse for wear, Fire Scout #0005 was picked up last November by the Museum’s Terry Naig and Gary Arnold in Moss Point and trucked back to McMinnville. The aircraft had been stripped of all its usable components by the Navy, but there was still enough there to form the basis of a good static display airframe.  So, over the last four months, volunteers in the restoration shop have been fixing the little bird up, and efforts are underway to replace the parts that were stripped by the Navy. There was extensive damage to the fuselage and skids from where #0005 had been dropped, but it is nothing the skilled volunteers can’t handle.  When it is completed later this year, the RQ-8A Fire Scout will be a unique display in the Museum, showcasing the direction that technology is taking the Navy in the future.