Del Smith, aviation icon, dies

Del Smith, an icon in aviation for decades, died in Oregon.

Smith was the founder of Evergreen Aviation, an MRO in Arizona and the highly regarded air museum that houses the Spruce Goose in Oregon.

Evergreen cargo airlines was widely believed at one time to be owned by the CIA. The MRO in Marana (AZ) was one of the top airliner graveyards. It is now under new ownership.

The museum in McMinville (OR) has been regarded as one of the finer ones in the country. It’s been mired in controversy over allegations Smith failed to pay for the Spruce Goose, the huge wooden airplane designed by Howard Hughes, per the contract to buy the airplane.

Evergreen Airlines was the first operator of the Boeing 747 Dreamlifters, a contract now held by Atlas Air.

We met Smith on several occasions. Always affable, Smith never admitted (to us, anyway) whether Everegreen had CIA connections.. His enthusiasm for aviation history was always infectious.

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