The Palm Springs Air Museum

Desert Hot Springs, CA

Palm Springs is the home of one of the top air museums in the world (CNN ranked it #14). Dave has a strong interest in aviation and was especially anxious to visit the museum so we were pleased to join him and Sue for a visit.  Since it was Veterans Day and there was no admission fee for veterans, one of the group was able to enter for free!

An old army “deuce and a half” (two and a half ton weight capacity) was parked in front of the entrance.  We found out later that it was there to participate in a local parade in Palm Springs later in the day.

The museum has three display areas.  Two are inside large hangers and the other is outside the building.  All the propeller planes in the museum’s collection are maintained in flying condition.  Each is taken to the maintenance area on a prescribed schedule where all the fluids are changed and engines are fired up for a period of time.  It is too expensive to fly each plane so only a few are ever taken up in the air.

Dauntless Dive Bomber (left) and Hellcat Fighter (right)

B-25 Mitchell Bomber

B-17 Flying Fortress

The aircraft pictured below is the newest addition to the museum collection.  It is an electronic warfare aircraft retired from service in June.  The plane was flown from the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush and parked where you see it.  They drained the remainder of the fuel out of it to use in another plane.  There are no plans to fly this plane again as it is just too expensive.  A docent told us it costs $6,000 an hour to fly the Prowler!

EA-6B Prowler

Avenger Torpedo Bomber

PBY-5A Catalina

MiG-21 (Soviet Union)

Front section of a C-119 Flying Boxcar

Controls of the C-119 Flying Boxcar

During our visit we were honored to observe part of a memorial service honoring Brigadier General Fritz Payne who died in August at the age of 104.  A career Marine, Payne retired in 1958 with the rank of brigadier general.  But it was two weeks at Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater during the early years of WWII where he built his lifelong reputation.  During that time he shot down a total of six enemy planes during extensive air combat with the Japanese.  At the time of his death Payne was the oldest living ace of WWII.

The first part of the service was held inside the hanger, but the second part was held outside in front of an F4F Wildcat similar to the aircraft he flew during the war.  The ceremony included a 21-gun salute from a Marine Honor Guard and the playing of Taps by a young Marine.

Part of the service included a fly-over by two WWII planes owned by the museum.

That was followed by a moving fly-over by four Marine helicopters.

As the helicopters flew over us they completed the Missing Man Formation, an aerial salute in memory of a fallen pilot.

One helicopter breaks off to the left in the Missing Man Fly-by

Even though we had not heard the story of Gen. Payne we found the ceremony quite moving, especially when the helicopter broke away in the Missing Man Formation.  The ceremony was a great surprise addition to our visit to this impressive museum.

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18 Responses to The Palm Springs Air Museum

  1. explorvistas says:

    Wow! My dad used to be a tail gunner in B-25’s. That one you saw is beautiful! That is interesting about the expense of flying them.

  2. paul weaver says:

    I guess only the government can afford to fly planes like these on a daily basis. Oh wait…..maybe they can’t afford it either 🙂

  3. Gay says:

    What a moving post for any day, but especially Veteran’s Day. Joe and I would have loved this museum. My dad was a paratrooper in WW ll, Joe was on an aircraft carrier in during the Vietnam Was, and our son was on an amphibious warfare ship during the Haiti crisis.

  4. How lucky you were to be there on Veteran’s Day and observe such a moving ceremony. I love all the air plane photos. My father was a B24 pilot in WW II and flew 50 missions from a base in Italy. He was a career Air Force officer and also flew a B25 and B17 during his career.

  5. Nancy says:

    What a fabulous post for Veterans Day! And to see a beautiful ceremony as well! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. Janna says:

    Great post for Veteran’s Day–we visited the air museum near Tucson years ago and it was awesome to enter a B29–Mike’s dad flew 33 missions over the Pacific in one of those planes. Thanks for sharing your visit.

  7. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    I loved this “vintage” post… old cars, old planes, old vets.
    Box Canyon Mark

  8. pmbweaver says:

    I would have had tears in my eyes. I do remember seeing a special on Gen. Payne on the Today’s show. What a wonderful man. So glad y’all got to witness a bit of history in the making. The mountains in the background add so much to the meaning of the day. A little piece of heaven.

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    It’s wonderful that they use their funding to maintain the planes in such great condition. I am always intimidated by those cockpit panels – how does one learn all those gauges??? Nice to be there for a piece of history – a very moving piece.

  10. Sue says:

    Great post guys, I’m glad you enjoyed your visit as much as we did.

  11. Sherry says:

    Dave would have loved my home town of Dayton Ohio where the Wright Patterson Air Force Base museum was located. I wonder what number it is on the list. How lucky to attend such a moving ceremony for the General.

  12. How fortunate you guys were to be able to attend a moving ceremony. And you just pick a place for Steve to check out when we get there.

  13. Laurel says:

    What a special place to visit on Veteran’s Day — and to witness the memorial for General Payne must have been especially moving.

  14. pam says:

    Great shot of those WWII planes!

  15. Lenore says:

    I always get choked up at those kinds of ceremonies, so I get it.
    That plane with the folding back wings was cool!

  16. allisonmohr says:

    Have you been to Wright Patterson in Dayton, Ohio? It’s a fabulous museum, they have a lot of one off planes.

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