Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Ever wanted to own a 747? Now you can: There’s one up for auction in McMinnville, Oregon

Have you ever thought about owning a jetliner? Now, you have a chance.

The engine-less 747 jumbo jet parked in front of the Evergreen Aviation Museum on Highway 18 is being auctioned off at 10 a.m. on July 28.  The auction is being held on the Yamhill County Courthouse steps as part of a Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office sale.

The starting bid is a whopping $348,000 plus storage fees of about $115,000. You might view that as a bargain, since new 747s can run as much as $450 million and even older ones go for about $10 million, according to the website executiveflyers.com.

Even so, the asking price here does not include moving the plane or setting it up at some new location.

Interested buyers will need to prove they have the money before placing a bid.

The 747 is one of many aircraft owned by Del Smith, who founded the museum with his son Michael King Smith. The museum showcases aircraft of all styles, including a SR-17 spy plane and planes used in World War Ⅱ.  

The museum is owned by McMinnville Properties, a company that's part of Bill Stoller’s Stoller Group. They own a number of buildings, vineyards and other properties – including the Wings & Wave waterpark, which proudly displays yet another 747.

Wayne Marschall, president of Stoller Group, is ready for the auction, which his company is taking part in. He believes the 747 is an important part of the museum that they do not want to lose.

"You don't see a 747 in the middle of a field often. It creates interest," Marschall said. "As president of the company that owns the land that it sits on, we want to support the museum."

The 747 has changed ownership a few times. While McMinnville Properties owns the museum, it does not own the jet.

Jet Midwest, an aircraft parts and leasing company in Kansas City, bought the plane in 2014. In 2019, the jet was leased to J Wines, whose owner planned to turn it into a wine tasting room. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, it put a stop to those plans.

In 2020, McMinnville acquired the land and found out the museum did not own the jet. The city filed a lawsuit against Jet Midwest in an effort to obtain the jet. However, Jet Midwest filed for bankruptcy in 2021, which brought on even more legal challenges.

Now, Marschall views the auction as a chance to allow the 747 to be a permanent fixture of the museum. He said he is confident his company will win the bid. If they do, they plan to get it painted and "spruce up its appearance."

The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office does not have an estimation on the number of people planning to bid, Sgt. Sam Elliott said in an email. Any potential bidder is invited to show up and does not have to pre-register.

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