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.
On September 19, 1996, Evergreen crews and members of the Oregon Air National Guard hoisted a McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle onto the pedestal where it now resides. The curiosity the aircraft creates is obvious by the large number of visitors who journey up the sidewalk daily. The most commonly asked question is “What is the significance of the aircraft on the pedestal and its history?”
The F-15A, serial number 76-0014, is located at the site in memory of Captain Michael King Smith and Major Rhory Roger Draeger. Captain Smith and Major Draeger both died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in March 1995. The aircraft stands in celebration of their memory and service to our Nation in this permanent location for everyone to view.
The memorial includes the flags of the United States, Oregon, and the 123rd Fighter Squadron “Redhawks” which fly alongside the F-15, as a reminder of Captain Smith and Major Draeger. It is a valuable artifact in the Museum’s aircraft collection and a landmark structure on Highway 18.