Monday, December 15, 2014

Evergreen Vintage Aircraft bankruptcy filing says it owes IMAX, other creditors

McMinnville's Evergreen Aviation empire suffered additional turbulence this month with a bankruptcy filing by the Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, which owns some aircraft and property at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and Wings and Waves Waterpark.

The Chapter 11 filing follows by less than a year the dissolution of the museum's for-profit affiliate, Evergreen International Aviation, and by a month the death of both entities' founder, Delford Smith. The museum hosted a memorial service for Smith earlier this month.

In a brief statement Monday, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum noted that Evergreen Vintage Aircraft is a "for-profit company," separate from the non-profit museum.

"Most of our Museum's collection of over 180 aircraft and artifacts are owned by the museum or are on loan from federal government agencies," the statement read. "Our museum does have 25 aircraft and vehicles on loan from Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, LLC. These remain on loan. We are continuing to lease the Theater building, which is owned by Evergreen Vintage Aircraft LLC. Our Museum continues to operate as before. We have no other comment to make at this time."

In its preliminary filings in federal bankruptcy court, Evergreen Vintage said it has more than $50 million in assets and more than $100 million in debts. It noted it owes Canada's IMAX Corp., maker of oversized movie screens and film equipment, $50,000. It listed smaller amounts for other creditors and also acknowledged owing money to Umpqua Bank.

Even before the dismantling of the Evergreen organizations, the museum was under state scrutiny over concerns that its finances were illegally commingled with those of the for-profit companies. The attorney general dropped that investigation when it was rendered moot by the collapse of Evergreen's for-profit aviation businesses. But the attorney general's office asked the Internal Revenue Service to consider whether the museums and water park were legitimate not-for-profit organizations that merited a tax exemption.

The museum, home to the fabled "Spruce Goose," has been dogged for months by rumors of disarray.

Aircraft broker Simon Brown, whose website lists a Lockheed P-38 aircraft housed at the museum, said last month he's received several offers for the vintage fighter, which is listed at $6.75 million. But, he said, after contacting the museum, "we can't even get a straight answer."

"No one knows what to do," he said. "It's the blind leading the blind."

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