Palm Springs Air Museum (Part 2)

For our regular Wednesday post this week, we did a photo essay of sorts based on our visit this past Sunday to the Palm Springs Air Museum. You can read that first post by clicking HERE. The museum was a place we’d planned to visit for a while (we’ve lived in California more than three years now), so we made it an add-on for our trip to see an airshow, which we’ll also cover here at Lofty Ambitions soon.

In our earlier post, we emphasized some of the distinctive features of the Palm Springs Air Museum: the vantage on the airport’s active runway, the really useful display of models next to actual planes, and the great library. When you look closely at those photos and those we post today, notice that the aircraft aren’t roped off. You can get up close, looking inside the ball turret of the B-17 bomber or peeking inside the Sikorsky H-34 helicopter. That proximity to the artifacts, combined with the friendly volunteer docents, makes this aviation museum a great experience.

Andrew Carroll (photo by MajorMarvy)

Today is Veterans Day, celebrated each year on November 11 to commemorate the armistice, the end of of shooting, of World War I, to acknowledge veterans’ service, and, for many of us, to commemorate the hope for the end of war more generally. Last night at Chapman University, we saw Andrew Carroll, founder of The Legacy Project (, and we heard letters written during different wars. If you have war letters (your grandparents’ missives from WWII in the attic, your friend’s emails from Iraq in the bottom of your inbox), preserve them. You can find preservation tips at The Legacy Project’s website. If you want to throw them out, consider instead sending them to The Legacy Project, which respects confidentiality requests. Dozens of aviation museums restore and display artifacts of war, but the letters from those aviators, other soldiers, and those on the homefront tell the fuller story.

Today, we offer more photos from our visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum, with a focus on the role that aviation museums play in restoring and making accessible artifacts that might otherwise be lost.

As at most aviation museums, restoration of aircraft, often to flying condition, is a central goal and a task handled by volunteers over years.
The museum's SBD-5 sat in Lake Michigan for decades after WWII. Raised in 1994, the Navy plane made its way to Pensacola, Chino, then Palm Springs.
After three years and 20,000 volunteer hours, the SBD-5 in the photo above was resored. A man named Sorenson visited the museum and said he thought that this was the plane he flew. It was, which is a testament to how well records of aircraft are kept.
You can get nose to nose with just about every aircraft on display here. This is a B-25, right where the nose gunner sat.
Here's the museum's Corsair FG-1D (the G indicates that it was built by Goodyear), with its distinctive gull wings. This American carrier-capable fighter was the first to exceed 400 mph.
Many Navy planes were based on carrier ships during the war. When you're standing next to, say, a Corsair, it's not always easy to imagine it on a ship's deck. This museum provides detailed models to show the aircraft on the carrier.
Lockheed's P-80 Shooting Star was the U.S. Air Force's first operational jet fighter. Ishpeming, Michigan, native Kelly Johnson was among its design engineers; he's said to have designed the aircraft is just one week.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is an all-metal, one-person fighter. More than 13,000 were produced, but only about 80 are on display or being restored, and fewer than 20 of those, including this one, can fly.
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British one-person fighter with a semi-elliptical wing that allows for retractable landing gear in a relatively thin wing.
This Grumman C-1A Trader sits outside, its wings folded, a few tools strewn around on the ground. This model flew from 1952 to 1988, and this iteration looks to be in good shape.
This odd object is the mold for the Pond Racer, an effort by Bob Pond and Burt Rutan in the early 1990s to offer an alternative in the Reno Air Races to using (and endangering) vintage aircraft. A fatal crash during qualifying ended the Pond Racer. Bob Pond is a major force behind the Palm Springs Air Museum.
On display is the original charter for the local chapter of the Ninety Nines, the organization for female pilots whose first president was Amelia Earhart. On this certificate is Jacqueline Cochran's signature as a founder of the chapter.

If you’re interested in more about Andrew Carroll, The Legacy Project, and the adaptation by John Benitz of the project’s war letters into the play If All the Sky Were Paper, watch the following video.


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