Palm Springs Air Museum (Part 1)

Inspired by the 102nd birthday of Evelyn Bryan Johnson last week, we packed a suitcase and headed into the desert this past weekend. We were pleasantly surprised that it took less than two hours to reach our destination, that parking and admission to the air show were free, and that the view was spectacular, with clear skies, warm sun, and mountains. We spent Saturday at the Jacqueline Cochran Air Show, and we’ll have more on that soon, including some amazing photos.

Anna with a paratrooper outside the Palm Springs Air Museum.

We spent Sunday at the Palm Springs Air Museum, and we’ll start there because that aviation museum celebrates its 15th anniversary this coming Saturday, November 12. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a look, even at $15 per person (check the website first for a dollar-off coupon). We devote this post to a photo essay that shows some of why we were struck by this museum, which includes two World War II hangars, several planes on display out front, and others in various states of repair on the ramp out back. In addition to the aircraft exhibits, the museum houses a library upstairs and a theater that shows films all day; we perused Life magazine issues and watched part of a History Channel show on the recovery of Glacier Girl, a P-38 buried 250 feet down in solid ice.

On Friday, we’ll post a bit more about this museum, including a focus on restoration. In the meantime, enjoy this virtual tour through the Palm Springs Air Museum.

The museum grounds offer the best view of the active runway of Palm Springs International Airport, where commercial and military aircraft take off and land.
The Palm Springs Air Museum makes great use of models, not just stacking them in a display case. Here, a model of a B-17 Flying Fortress, with interior exposed sits next to its functional counterpart.
The ball turret of this B-17 heavy bomber is open, revealing just how cramped and vulnerable this position was.
An illustration on the hatch shows the ball turret gunner in position.
The Consolidated PBY Catalina, a flying boat, is one of our favorite aircraft.
The B-25 Mitchell, a medium bomber, was a forgiving plane to fly. Almost 10,000 were made.
On July 28, 1945, a B-25 crashed into the Empire State Building. Fourteen people died in the incident.
The museum's library contains an extensive collection of Life magazine, among other resources and flight simulators. This page from Life documents the B-25 crash into the Empire State Building.
Helicopters too! This is a Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw, a model that first flew in 1954.
Interior of the Sikorsky H-34, a piston-powered helicopter still in civilian use.

Check Friday’s post HERE for more on this aviation museum (and Veterans Day), and we’ll recount our air show adventures soon!

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