Evergreen’s Mystery Lady

Evergreen’s Mystery Lady

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

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Civil Air Patrol Business Academy 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.

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Be Prepared for Camping Season Scouts!

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!

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What are our guests saying?

We have been receiving lots of positive feedback from our guests at our new Wings & Waves Waterpark. Tell us, what you think! Either comment on our blog, follow us on twitter or find us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you.

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Student Essay Contest: Results


We are excited to announce our Student Essay Contest winners! We had more than 2,200 entries, so it was a difficult decision!

1st: Justine Reiter from Yamhill Carlton Elementary
2nd: Malika Sykes from Harrison Park
3rd: Kate Ford from Memorial Elementary School
4th: Erin Foley from Cathedral School
5th: Matthew Kontra from Central Valley Christian School
6th: Annalise Lau from C.S. Lewis Academy
7th: Tarah Gustafson from North Albany Middle School
8th: Kai McPheeters from Holy Redeemer Catholic School

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