California: Palm Springs (Part II) / Palm Springs Air Museum

Welcome to part two of Palm Springs, California!  We had so much material, particularly from the Palm Springs Air Museum, we felt it would be more beneficial to post a separate article dedicated to the museum alone.

Palm Springs Air Museum

Located on the northeast side of Palm Springs International Airport, the Palm Springs Air Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable World War II aircraft and ranked #2 out of 65 attractions in Palm Springs by TripAdvisor!  The museum showcases 29 vintage aircraft in a 70,000 square foot facility consisting of three main display hangars, a theater, gift shop, research library, simulator and education center.

Air Museum

The Museum’s mission is to exhibit, educate and eternalize the role of the World War II combat aircraft and the role the pilots and American citizens had in winning the war.

One does not even have to enter the museum to come face to face with some of the larger than life, well-known aircraft utilized by the Navy.  The museum displays several aircraft outdoors including the Grumman Tomcat F-14, the Douglas Skyhawk TA-4J and the Bell Cobra AH-1 just to name a few.  All in all, there are currently eight aircraft displayed outdoors.  There are no ropes cordoning off the aircraft therefore visitors can get up close and personal with these impressive machines of war.

(Click on the mosiac for larger view of photos)

Entering the museum through the front lobby, visitors have the choice of either entering the Pond Hangar on the left or the Craven Hangar on the right.  The Pond Hangar is dedicated to the battles fought in the Pacific with displays on the Road to War in the Pacific, Pearl Harbor, and the Battle of the Philippines.  There is a stage set up to honor Bob Hope and his involvement with entertaining the troops with the USO as well as a display featuring Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945.

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Pond Hangar

Bob Hope Stage

The surrender ceremony was held aboard the battleship USS Missouri where the Japanese foreign affairs minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender  in the presence of General Richard K. Sutherland, thus ending the hostilities of World War II.

(Click on the mosiac for larger view of photos)

There is a display of model warships called Warship Row featuring the USS Minneapolis, the USS Missouri, the USS Lexington, the USS Sullivans and the USS Rasher.  There are also various displays featuring military uniforms and weapons used during WWII as well as a diorama of Pearl Harbor.

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Air Museum-42

The Cravens Hangar is dedicated to the battles fought in Europe featuring Airborne Troop Carriers such as the Douglas C47.  The hangar also houses displays dedicated to Women at War, the Flying Tigers, Combat Camera Men and the Memphis Belle.  There are engine displays featuring the Rolls Royce Engine and the Allison Engine. First used in 1930, the Allison V-1710 aircraft engine was the only indigenous US-developed V-12 liquid-cooled engine to see service during World War II.

Focke-Wolf Fw 190

Focke-Wolf Fw 190

Next to the Cravens Hangar is the Phillips Hangar where visitors can relax in the café and kids can engage in the Children’s Education Center.

What I loved the most was seeing the various airplane nose art from WWII.  Nose art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of a military aircraft.  It started for practical reasons of identifying friendly aircraft and the practice evolved to express individuality and to evoke memories of home. It also served as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war. Although nose art was not officially approved by the military, the regulations against it were not enforced.

(Click on the mosiac for larger view of photos)

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The museum features Open Cockpit Saturdays from 1:00 – 3:00 PM where patrons can sit in the cockpit of various aircraft.  The aircraft is rotated every weekend and during our visit, the Huey Cobra Helicopter was the featured aircraft.

There is so much to see and experience at the Palm Springs Air Museum, we believe it will be the highlight of your visit to Palm Springs.  Visitors are allowed to browse the exhibits at their own pace so spend as little or as much time as you wish.  Volunteers are available to answer any questions.


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