Destination: WWII Air Museum
High Flying Adventures At Palm Springs Air Museum
At the Palm Springs Air Museum, you can’t help but be inspired by one of the world’s largest collections of flying World War II combat aircraft. What’s most impressive is that the vintage planes are all airworthy.
The high flying California museum is located right next to the Palm Springs airport, and on special occasions visitors can see some of the historic planes taken from their hangers, race down the runway, and soar into the wild blue yonder, just as they were intended.
There’s always something exciting happening at there, with a variety of exhibits and events that will leave you in awe. It’s a great place to visit during your next trip to the desert. The facility does a top-notch job showcasing its aircraft, putting the spotlight on the men and women who made aviation history by building, maintaining and flying the military planes that changed the course of history.
Many of the enthusiastic volunteers at the museum are veterans of World War II. The veteran-docents not only share stories about the aircraft around them, but also tell personal tales of the heroes in uniform, keeping their memories alive. No matter how many times a story is retold, the pain and the pride of what it took to wear the uniform still causes tears to well up. They remember the events from over 60 years ago as if they had experienced it yesterday.
No words can describe how special it is for visitors to learn about history from those who lived it. And seeing the vintage aircraft alongside the former flyboys and the fellows who maintained the aircraft, as they talk about their experiences, is something you’ll never forget.
Some talked about the WACs, the women who served as pilots, having the important job of delivering the planes from the defense plants to the air bases in Europe. I was surprised to hear stories about how, at the end of the war, the Army didn’t provide transportation home for the women, so they had to hitch a ride home with U.S. bound pilots. And some got hitched later, with a marriage made in the clouds.
The museum has two massive hangars– one filled with the aircraft that flew over Europe, and the other with the planes that served in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. The aircraft is seen in all its restored glory. World War II history buffs should look for the Grumman F4F Wildcat, plus all the other “cats,” Tomcat, Tigercat, Bearcat and Hellcat.
Plus the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress is on display, and so much more. Every plane you see is air-worthy, even the ones that still sport bullet holes!
Seeing how the pilots decorated their planes with beautiful “nose-art” is interesting. Lonely flyboys would paint sexy women on the “nose” of their planes to remind them what was waiting for them when they got home from the war.
In addition to the planes, the museum is a treasure trove of memories and experiences to go part and parcel with the exhibits that include vintage automobiles, large-scale model ships, WWII memorabilia and artifacts, and a USO stage set up with photo displays of Bob Hope entertaining the troops during the war years.
The Air Museum celebrates special occasions and holidays with activities, history programs and attractions. It is an excellent memorial to our military, especially those who took to the skies.