It’s a foreclosure that perhaps would happen only in McMinnville.
The Yamhill County sheriff’s Office will hold an auction on the courthouse steps on July 25. The property in question is not a house — it’s a derelict Boeing 747 that has been parked in the field in front of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum for some eight years.
McMinnville Properties, a company controlled by wine entrepreneur Bill Stoller, who also owns the museum, hopes to gain control of the plane. It filed suit in Yamhill County last October against a Kansas City-based aircraft parts and leasing operation called Jet Midwest, which bought the 747 in 2014 after Evergreen International Aviation filed bankruptcy.
The plane and the museum are legacies of the aviation company and its colorful founder Del Smith. Evergreen assembled a large fleet of aircraft and became a significant local employer as it grew to become a major aviation contractor for the federal government and other customers.
The museum formed by Smith is best known as the home of the Spruce Goose, the enormous aircraft designed and flown once by Howard Hughes.
The museum had struggled for several years after the aviation company’s bankruptcy and Smith’s death. One former owner began selling valuable aircraft out of the museum to raise operating capital.
Stoller, who grew up in Yamhill County, injected a dose of much-needed stability into the operation when one of his companies bought part of the museum in April 2020. It has since acquired all five of the buildings at the site and the adjoining vineyards, said Wayne Marschall, president of the Stoller Group.
The museum survived the COVID-19 pandemic thanks in part to just over $300,000 it received from the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program, Marschall said. On Wednesday, the museum announced the hiring of Tyson Weinert as its new president and CEO.
McMinnville Properties last October sued Jet Midwest and two other companies in Yamhill County Circuit Court seeking immediate payment of more than $587,000 in storage fees, interest and other charges.
McMinnville Properties hopes to prevail at the foreclosure sale, Marschall said. And if they gain ownership of the jet, what then? Marschall isn’t sure.
It has no engines. So flying off into the sunset isn’t an option.
There’s a possibility the 747 could remain in place. The plane has been parked for so long in front of the museum it’s become a bit of a landmark, Marschall said.
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