Good Morning and welcome to the 3DB where we talk aviation history. Today I want to pay tribute to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. As most of you may know, I was there in June of this year and had the pleasure of meeting, and working with, Stewart Bailey the curator. The museum is a real treasure for all of us, aviators and non-aviators, and if you have not been – you need to go. The museum is now operating independently from the airline, which filed bankruptcy, and it appears that it will survive the challenge of maintaining it’s doors opened and keeping away the hungry creditors. If that should change I will be the first to broadcast that change and ask for your support.
Today I want to bring you a few brief items on the museum’s history, and the airline that started it all, as well as I have a video of one one of the last projects Evergreen International put in to the commercial Arena.
Dreams of flight have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike for centuries. Founded in the memory of Captain Michael King Smith, our exhibits celebrate the lives of innovators, pilots, and veterans who courageously pioneered flight in these remarkable machines.
Captain Michael King Smith had a fascination with flight that began in childhood and continued throughout his short life. Captain Smith’s fierce dedication and passion for flying led to his dream of an aviation museum unlike any other – a living museum that celebrates aviation’s rich history, honors the patriotic service of our veterans and offers enlightening educational programs in aviation.
Because education is at the core of our mission, we strive to make all of our exhibits and programs both inspiring and educational for adults and children alike. Whether you are a student, a flight enthusiast, or just passing through, we have a variety of opportunities – from guided tours to full educational programs – to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Home to the Captain Michael King Smith Educational Institute, we are proud to offer a variety of flexible programs, all of which may be tailored to fit a particular group’s needs. In addition, we offer several scholarship programs and educational partnerships.
Raised in McMinnville, Oregon, Michael King Smith graduated from McMinnville High School in 1984. He was an honor student, varsity athlete, and an Eagle Scout, and showed the signs of leadership at an early age. After graduating, he continued his education at the University of Washington and in 1989 received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force. He graduated first in his class from Columbus Air Force Base. He also received awards including the Commander’s Trophy, Distinguished Graduate and Flying Excellence. Smith went on to become an F-15 pilot and Lead for the 123rd Fighter Squadron of the Oregon Air National Guard. At the same time, he served as President of Evergreen Ventures, Inc., and Evergreen Air Venture Museum. He was founder of the Evergreen-Doe Humane Society and President and Founder of Quality Aviation Services. Captain Smith died tragically in an automobile accident in 1995.
When Captain Smith returned from Fighter Lead-In Training School he was full of enthusiasm for the creation of a living aviation museum. Evergreen International Aviation founder, Delford M. Smith, shared his son’s vision. Together they collected vintage warbirds and began the process of creating a world class aviation museum in Oregon – a museum that would keep the inspiring stories of early aviators alive while encouraging other visionaries to pursue their dreams. Today, the Evergreen Aviation Museum is the realization of the Smiths’ vision to create a lasting tribute to the inspiring history of aviation and its vital role in the world. It is a place where people can see famous artifacts from the history of aviation and become inspired to change their lives through academic and professional career training in the fields of aviation and aerospace.
“The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Captain Michael King Smith Educational Institute fulfills Michael’s vision of creating a place that inspires people to be the best they can be. The new institute is a gift from Evergreen to the community, celebrating 40 years of learning and growing together.”
Delford. M. Smith,
CEO and founder, Evergreen International Aviation / Chairman, Evergreen Aviation Museum Board of Trustees.
The troubled McMinnville-based cargo carrier, flew its final military flight last Friday and all remaining aircraft are now parked, according to a pilots’ union memo obtained by The Oregonian.
The memo sent Monday to Air Line Pilots Association members said Evergreen managers would meet with lienholders Tuesday. Signed by James B. Touchette, chairman of ALPA Local 118, the memo told union members that their latest pay would be delayed until Thursday.
“A meeting is slated to take place with the lienholders and Evergreen management tomorrow,” Touchette wrote Monday, “and the creditors’ decision may take some time.”
Closure of the company — originally scheduled for last Saturday, but denied as false rumor by founder Delford Smith – would end a storied, three-decade history for the airline whose baggage includes close ties with the CIA. Evergreen once operated a global fleet of Boeing 747 cargo jets, running round-the-world flights and keeping a plane on standby for secret U.S. military missions.
Several Evergreen companies founded and owned by Smith have been major Yamhill County employers, as have the 83-year-old’s nonprofits, which include a water park and an air-and-space museum. Managers say the attractions will remain open. But the Oregon Department of Justice is investigating them for alleged commingling of funds between Evergreen’s profit and nonprofit arms, and Smith may have put up some of the planes in the museum as collateral being claimed by creditors.
Mike Hines, chairman of parent company Evergreen International Aviation Inc., did not return phone calls Tuesday. Voicemails left for Hines posed questions concerning the airline’s remaining property, employees, contracts and its Federal Aviation Administration certificate, a potentially valuable asset.
Hines told The Oregonian Monday the company was still operating and managers hoped to save it. But an airline can’t function after letting go its operations director and closing its dispatch center, which workers and former employees say occurred at McMinnville headquarters Monday.
Evergreen International Airlines’ last flight apparently occurred early Monday. A well-traveled Boeing 747-400 cargo jet made a short hop from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to Victorville, Calif., according to former employees and reports by workers who said they crewed the 46-minute flight. The 747-400 – the same one that flew Evergreen’s last military flight, from Yokota Air Base, Japan, to Travis — had arrived at Travis after midnight Thursday from Yokota.
A FlightAware activity log shows the freighter had hopscotched just since Friday from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, to Travis to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, to Osan Air Base, South Korea, to Yokota and back to Travis – and then on to Victorville. In addition to its federal prison, Victorville is known for one of the nation’s busiest “boneyards” — where unneeded commercial planes go to be stored or to die and be chopped up for parts.
Some leased Evergreen cargo jets have been repossessed by creditors, according to public records and former union officers.
Evergreen International Airlines had 215 full-time employees as of September, according to a filing with the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics — down from a peak of 950 in 1991. The bureau classifies the company as a Group II airline, meaning it has annual operating revenues between $100 million and $1 billion. The privately held company hasn’t disclosed revenues since 2004, when it had to do so in order to market junk bonds.
But former managers say Evergreen has long depended on heavy borrowing, leasing most or all of its aircraft and engines, many of which are now being claimed by creditors.
Creditors seeking millions of dollars in damages have filed numerous lawsuits, some of which have produced default judgments as Evergreen lawyers fail to show up in court. Air Line Pilots Association officials cite an August ruling by a Yamhill County judge finding that the airline owes Evergreen crew members $1.4 million in overdue contributions to a pension plan.
The memo sent Monday by ALPA’s Touchette, a former Evergreen pilot, said the union had filed a grievance on behalf of the last crew members employed at Evergreen. It alleged that management failed to provide a two-week written furlough notice required by the labor contract.
Former employees said one of Evergreen’s few valuable assets could be its airline certificate issued by the FAA. Smith founded the airline by having his Evergreen Helicopters Inc. buy Johnson Flying Service, in 1975 a tiny, struggling company in Missoula, Mont., that held the coveted certificate.
The crucial document allowed Evergreen to branch out from its status as a helicopter company to operate fixed-wing aircraft. In March, Evergreen sold off its helicopter division for as much as $267 million to Erickson Air-Crane Inc., intending to use the proceeds toward $300 million in debt.
Evergreen’s FAA certificate is supplemental, a type that has become relatively rare as the federal agency converts airlines to so-called flag certificates. Supplemental certificates differ from flag certificates in many ways, former union officers say.
The main difference is supplementals ease restrictions so a non-scheduled operator can run a charter service, enabling customers to book flights at will. Supplemental certificates also allow carriers to go almost anywhere in the world, to keep records differently and to use alternate manuals for dispatch and communications.
Unless Smith has already sold the rights separately, Evergreen’s certificate may include authority for the holder to fly cargo routes to and from Asia, Latin America and elsewhere. At one time Evergreen had authority to fly almost anywhere, and it may still.
However, a buyer could only acquire the certificate if it bought the airline, which would come with mountains of debt.
If a start-up airline or an established company — such as Evergreen competitor Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, which has a flag certificate -– bought the McMinnville-based airline, the buyer would also inherit ALPA Local 118, which travels with the certificate, according to former union officers. It’s debatable whether a buyer would honor the connection between the union and the certificate, however. The union continues providing certain services to ALPA members who have lost representation.
Evergreen may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or be forced to do so. Federal law allows three or more creditors to file an involuntary bankruptcy. In most cases Chapter 7 would block suits and appoint a trustee for an orderly liquidation.
On Monday, Hines declined to comment when asked whether Evergreen would file Chapter 7. He also wouldn’t comment on whether managers planned to shut down the company, or whether they were talking to potential financial backers.
The deadly fires that have blackened more than 105,000 acres around Los Angeles prompted authorities to call in the world’s largest fire extinguisher — a Boeing 747 that can drop 20,000 gallons of retardant over a swath of land three miles long.
The plane made its first-ever drop in the continental United States when fire officials summoned it to the Oak Glen fire east of Los Angeles mid day on Monday. After the successful first drop, the Supertanker was called back into action Monday evening where it made further drops on the massive Station fire north of the city which grew to more than 164 square miles and threatened 10,000 homes. Nearly 2,600 firefighters from as far away as Montana are throwing everything they have at the blaze, and on Monday they called in the biggest tool in their inventory.
Supertanker, a 747-100 modified by Evergreen Aviation of Oregon, can deliver more than 20,000 gallons of fire retardant with considerable accuracy using its unique pressurized delivery system. Although Supertanker can’t snake through canyons like smaller aircraft, nothing can touch its payload or its ability to perform multiple controlled drops during a single flight. The Grumman S-2, a dedicated workhorse of California’s airtanker fleet, carries 1,200 gallons. That’s a thimbleful compared to the Supertanker.
“This aircraft can lay down a three-mile-long, football field-wide swath of retardant if needed,” Evergreen’s Rick Campfield told Wired.com. “There’s no close second.”
Evergreen spent more than $50 million developing the Supertanker and hopes to sell it around the world as the premier aerial firefighting tool.
There has long been debate on the usefulness of firefighting air tankers. The debate peaked several years ago after the high-profile crashes of firefighting aircraft prompted several agencies to ground many of the aging aircraft that were the backbone of the fleet. Although there is still some question as to the cost-effectiveness of airborne firefighters, there are some new options on the marketplace.
In addition to the Supertanker 747, an outfit called 10 Tanker Air Carrier developed an aerial firefighter based on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. It carries 12,000 gallons and has been flying since 2006. Supertanker saw action in North America for the first time in July when it was deployed in Alaska. Before that, it made a demonstration drop in Spain.
During a practice drop in Arizona, Supertanker’s delivery four red nozzles are visible behind the wing.
During a practice drop in Arizona, Supertanker’s four red delivery nozzles are visible behind the wing.
Besides being big, the Supertanker is persistent. The pressurized system can make several precision drops per flight. During the flight in Alaska, it dropped 17,000 gallons on its first pass over the fire, then returned to dump the rest of its payload. Most firefighting air tankers use a simple gravity drop where the doors are opened and everything is dumped at once.
“If an incident commander says he wants a thousand gallons here, a thousand there and 15 thousand over there, we can do that,” Campfield says. “It’s like an aerosol can. You have much better control with a pressurized system.”
This kind of capability means Supertanker can fight several small fires, after a lightning storm for example, or cover a three-mile swath of property to protect a community. With a top speed in excess of 600 mph, Supertanker can get from its base to the fire line quickly. Currently the 747 is based at McClellan Airfield outside Sacramento. Once it’s over the fire, Supertanker can slow down to around 160 mph while making drops 300 feet above the ground. And unlike many other firefighting aircraft that are flying at or near their maximum weight, the 747 is flying well below its maximum providing an added safety margin for the pilots.
One disadvantage of large tankers is the time it takes to reload them with retardant. Both the DC-10 and 747 require very long runways of more than 8,000 feet and turnaround times of around 30 minutes to refill the fire retardant, refuel and interestingly, let the brakes cool down. Other aerial tankers including the Martin Mars (the world’s largest flying boat) as well as large helicopters such as the Sikorsky Air Crane can refill quickly from nearby water sources such as a lake or pond. But Campfield says the Supertanker isn’t a replacement for these or other firefighting aircraft.
“It complements the fleet for those situations that make sense,” he says. The plane, he says, can make the current fleet more adaptable. Grummans and Sikorskys can be used in those areas where agility is needed, and the Supertanker is perfect for those instances that demand sheer volume.
“We can lay down the long line” of retardant, he says.
Of course this kind of capability doesn’t come cheap. While helicopters and smaller aircraft might cost a few thousand dollars per hour to fight fires, Supertanker comes in close to $30,000/hour. This does fuel the cost-effectiveness debate, but with Supertanker delivering at least eight times as much retardant as the typical tanker in the fleet, the math keeps it in the same dollar per gallon-delivered range as other aircraft.
Another capability still under development by Evergreen is the ability to fight fires at night. The pressurized delivery system allows the Supertanker to make effective drops from as high as 400 feet — about twice the altitude of most air tankers. That added altitude could allow crews to safely make drops at night.
After Monday’s drops, there was no word from California fire officials on when the 747 might be called in again according to Campfield. But after being told the first flights of Supertanker were “very effective,” expect the veteran airliner to return to service soon in its new life as a fire extinguisher.
The Boeing Dreamlifter, pictured below was operated by Evergreen International, until they lost the contract in the spring of 2014 to Atlas Air, and the loss of this contract was a major blow to their survival.
Take some time this weekend and visit – www.evergreenmuseum.org – the museum on line and look around. They have a lot of history that we all need to help preserve and protect.
Have a good weekend, take care, and fly safe/be safe.
August 22, 2014