The Museum is temporarily closed in accordance with Oregon state guidelines regarding COVID-19 

Paul Payne, You're in the Army Now - Evergreen Hero Spotlight

Mar 23, 2016

Evergreen Museum

By Carolyn Roman and Al Vannoy


Evergreen Museum Docent:
Paul Payne, You’re in the Army Now

               When we look up and see the Spruce Goose we should be reminded of the men who were responsible for helping to bring this this masterpiece of aircraft history to life. One of those individuals was Paul Payne, who played a key role in restoring this enormous ship. The painstaking work of restoring the Goose began in 1992 and ran through 2001. With a background in paint formulation and varnish removing solutions, Paul understood the process and ramifications of restoring wood finishes. He realized very quickly that there would be an environmental disposal problem in using solvents to remove the plane’s existing finishing. So the decision was made to hand scrape and sand 49,000 square feet of paint from the Goose.

               It was 1934 when Paul took his first flight in a Great Lakes biplane piloted by a female aerobatic pilot. Paul’s recollection: “this is pretty neat”. That experience, along with years of making model airplanes and the love of aviation, intensified Paul’s desire of flying. He asked his father to take him to the old Swan Island Airport in Portland to take flights, including in a Ford Trimotor.

               Growing up in Hillsboro, Oregon, Paul decided to go to the University of Oregon to study Architecture and “get down to the business of going to school”. After enrolling in college Paul decided to join the Army ROTC and as it happened, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese soon there after. Just beginning his winter term in college, the Army came with a Command Order that declared “you are now in the Army”. After a short stay at Fort Lewis, Washington, he was sent to Camp Walters, Texas, for training. He “pounded the ground day after day” carrying backpacks, radios and M1 rifles; so, when he saw a sign: ‘Aviation Cadets Wanted’, Paul immediately signed up.

               Paul was sent back to college for eight months in Grand Forks, North Dakota-a prerequisite to flight training. He was then sent to a Classification Center in California. Paul remembers being tested in a high altitude pressure container where he first experienced hypoxia. Paul had the opportunity to decide between being either a navigator, bombardier, or pilot. Choosing to become a bombardier was an easy choice for Paul because it meant he could graduate early and get home to his high school sweetheart. The bombardier course consisted of six months of bombing targets in the Mojave Desert. Upon completion, Paul was made a flight officer. Taking a 10-day leave, he went home and married his “young lady”. After a short honeymoon, Paul was sent for radar-bomber training and subsequently assigned to a B-24 where they were to conduct operations against Japanese shipping in the Pacific, but during the unit’s transfer to the Pacific the war ended.

               Move forward some 45 years; Paul: “One day I found out there was an Oregon First Aviation convention at the Portland Convention Center. I went up there and they had a lot of aviation artifacts…, [there] was a table with a model of a great big flying boat… I asked about it and they said, ‘We’re bringing the Spruce Goose up from southern California to McMinnville, to a museum.’ That sold me.

               Paul has been a docent since 1992.


 Paul Payne



Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment


Hello, we visited this museum 08/29/09 and have been here many times, the price just keeps going up and up. The museum over head board the shows the prices is so confusing and when we paid the bill of almost $80 this turned out to ruin the whole experience for us! This is not family/budget freindly and what was with all the computers being shut down so you coulnd’t even go play in that section. My family are museum lovers and don’t expect to get in free but for one museum for the 6 of us $80 dollars is WAY too much, If any one asked my about it I would say don’t waste your time!! We will never come back!

Rusty Denham

When will the F-105G & F-4C be moved back across the Hwy. to the museum? I have always enjoyed taking pictures of the Air & Space campus at night and this would be a great opportunity to get some rare pictures.

Thank you,


Sorry for such the late response! I found out just this morning that those two aircraft will be moving across the highway today (Tuesday, September 8).

David Strean

My comment is concerning the stickers that you can buy to put in the back window of you car or whatever. I also recived one with my membership.
I have no problem with the logo, but they are very poor contrast and hard to see even if you stand very close. I would like to have one that is easyier to see. I like to show off the fact that I am a proud member.
I dont know, maybe a picture of the Spruce Goose would be easyier to contrast.


Thanks for your comment! We have actually designed new member window stickers that will hopefully be available in the next two months. I will post a comment when I know the exact date!

Patti Rossman

Nice articles, found the one about the movies and how much film is used etc very interesting. Thanks for the little tidbits.

FiveHens 2192

Since November is Aviation History Month so we thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite kid-friendly aviation museums we’ve visited around the country. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, so if you know of other good aviation museums for kids, please stop by and let us know at Thanks.



We just received our new window decals this week! They will be included in all new and renewing member information packets. But to make sure that you receive one, please email, or call membership director Amy Quick at 503-434-4007.

Thanks for asking! And if I say so myself, they look great!

David Strean

Just found the new window sticker in my mail box. Looks great. can’t wait to get it in my window.

Thanks a lot.

Riley Sanders

Great site !

Very informitive of whats going on with in the museum campus, Can’t get enough of Airplanes !

keep’em coming !

Charlotte & Darrell Nielsen

We saw a red and white Chinook helicopter fly over NE Salem, OR, several times yesterday, Saturday, July 2, 2011. Is this one from your fleet? If so, is this a special event set aside for the fourth of July holiday, or something we can continue to look forward to more frequently; It is exciting to watch and curious weather we’ll see more in the future days ahead; where are they dispatched from and is there a regular flight schedule? Any information you have that could satisfy our curiosity would be appreciated, as the saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back!”
Thank you,
Charlotte & Darrell Nielsen


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