50th Anniversary Milestone Reached!

Nov 1, 1997 McMinnville Oregon

Exactly 50 years ago today at Long Beach, California the crew assigned by the Hughes Aircraft Company to test the gigantic flying boat known as the "Spruce Goose", attempted to move it from it's mooring inside the huge hanger that housed it. Sudden high winds threatened the very safety of the ship, and testing was postponed for a day. Today, 50 years after those winds delayed the flight testing, "The Michael King Smith Evergreen Aviation Educational" Center honored eight of the nine remaining flight crew of the historic aviation relic. The ceremonies, held at the temporary holding facility for the Spruce Goose, included an interview with each crew member held in the cockpit of the mammoth flying boat. The interviews were filmed and will be compiled into a commemorative video tape, to be released at a later date. (these video tapes are going to be priceless in their content! Many vivid stories were told by the crew, we can't wait!!)

Attending the event were co-pilot Dave Grant who tells us of Hughes' intent to fly that day, peeling back one of the layers of the mystery of that flight...... Flight Engineer Don Smith who commented "I've never seen a flight deck with so many people on it"....... Systems Mechanic Van Storm "the glue joints were very carefully assembled, then X-rayed, if any voids were seen, they were thrown out.....they must have done it right, it's 50 years later and they are still holding".... Engine Mechanic Mel Glaser told us of fishing from under the wing during swing shift duty.... Radio Man Merle Coffee, who told us there really weren't any radios for him to operate, thus his title was a misnomer, also tells us despite what we may have heard to the contrary "Mr. Hughes was a nice man"..... Also Engine Mechanics A. Geverink, John Glenn. And Hydraulic Mechanic, Vic Leonard. Unable to attend was Engine Mechanic, Don Shirey (for a comment from Mr. Shirey and more information and historic pictures of these men and this historic reunion visit http://sprucegoose.org )

Many of the crew have remained in contact with each other since the historic event 50 years ago, the camaraderie formed so long ago still intact. Though all of them are in their golden years, they laughed and joked with the energy of men much younger, sharing their memories of that day, so long ago, with all present. Special thanks must be afforded to the President of the museum Jack Real and museum director Gary Thompson, without their tireless efforts this historic reunion could not have taken place.

FlightLine will have photos and more information on the progress of the museum in a future update in this section. Currently the museum plans have been finalized, interior and exterior drawings will be available here and on the "Spruce Goose" site soon.

A memorial lithograph (shown above) was released, several copies were signed by the crew, these will be offered for sale at the official HK-1 website soon. (all proceeds go to the support of the Hughes Flying Boat HK-1 "Spruce Goose" (the signed copies are in quite limited supply for information email kelvin.johnson@sprucegoose.org or visit the gift shop at the Spruce Goose website.

-Wayne Sagar-




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