Spanning 127 acres in Tucson, Arizona, the Pima Air & Space Museum is the one of the largest private non-government funded aviation museums in the world. Founded in 1976 the Pima Air & Space Museum displays over 300 aircraft and more than 125,000 artifacts on 80 acres and within five display hangars. The museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation governed by the Board of Trustees of the Arizona Aerospace Foundation. The museum also has a maintenance and restoration hangar where daily work is performed on aircraft. The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame took up residence on the Pima Air & Space Museum campus in 1991.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is open daily from 9AM-5PM, with last admissions granted at 3PM. Along with walking tours guided by experts in aviation history, the museum also offers tram tours. Sitting adjacent to the world famous ‘Aircraft Boneyard”, a massive US government and military aircraft storage facility, the Pima Air & Space Museum offers the only authorized tours of this facility. The special ‘Boneyard’ tour is a limited bus tour requiring reservations that has a wait time of no less than 10 days. Be sure to plan early if you want to include the special “Boneyard’ tour during your visit to Pima Air & Space Museum.
Tail Gunner's Compartment Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
Cassutt Formula One Pylon Racer
Grumman F-11A Tiger
McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II
Bell UH-1C Iroquois (Huey)
Beechcraft Model S18D
Lockheed Model 10A Electra the aircraft in which Amelia Earhart vanished during her attempted around the world flight in 1937.
Lockheed Model 10A Electra
Pentecost E-111 Hoppicopter
Grumman J4F-2 Widgeon Petulant Porpoise
Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
Lockheed SR 71-A Blackbird
“It holds world speed and altitude records and is the only manned, jet powered aircraft to routinely exceed Mach 3. A brief list of some of the records held by the Blackbird: July 28, 1976 – World absolute speed record – 2,193 mph . World absolute record for sustained altitude – 85,069 feet. September 1 1974 New York to London 1 hour 55 minutes 42 seconds. March 6, 1990 Los Angeles to Washington D.C. 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds.” http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/blackbird
B57 Nuclear Bomb 1963-early 1990's
B61 Nuclear Bomb 1968-present
Pereira Osprey II 1970
Martin PBM-5A Mariner 1940 Seaplane
Kaman SH-2F Seasprite
Lockheed S-3B Viking
Bell AH-1S Cobra
“The Bing” was an officer’s lounge for A-10 pilots serving in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The exponential growth of the Pima Air & Space Museum, since its inception now encompasses specialty exhibits. The display hangars are designed with descriptive museum precision exhibitions and are grouped by subject. The main hangar includes:
Sea Planes and Amphibians – tracing the early history of planes that were designed to takeoff and land on water
Aerial Reconnaissance – an overview of aircraft used for both military and civilian reconnaissance and the equipment used from World War I to today’s SR-71
Submarine Hunting – An overview of aircraft used to find and neutralize submarines, including detection and weapons systems.
Arizona Aviation- Celebrates the 100 years of Aviation in Arizona
Vietnam Air War – examines the massive use of aircraft in the Vietnam war, including recordings from the flyers.
Great Paper Airplane Project
Women in Flight – highlighting the aerial achievements of women in flight
Consolidated B-24J Liberator
“In all, 18,482 Liberators were built during World War II, making it the most produced American aircraft of the war. They were used by every branch of the American military and by several Allied nations. The “J” model was the most produced version of the B-24 with a total of 6,678 built.” http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/consolidated-b-24j-liberator
“Manufactured in September 1944 as s/n 44-44175, this B-24J was sent directly to the Royal Air Force under Lend-Lease. Serving as aircraft KH304, it was stationed in India and Ceylon and used primarily in anti-submarine and anti-shipping roles. Left in India by the RAF, this aircraft was renumbered as HE877 and used by the Indian Air Force until its retirement in 1968. Flown to Tucson on April 27, 1969, the aircraft retains the markings of No. 6 Squadron, IAF on the right side. The markings on the left side are those of the 446th Bomb Group, U.S. Army Air Forces. The 446th BG led the 8th Air Force in the bombing of the beaches on D-Day during the Normandy Invasion. This aircraft was donated by the Government of India.” Museum label Pima Air & Space Museum
Morane-Saulnier MS-500 Criquet Fiesler FI-156 Storch
“The Fieseler Storch was introduced in 1936 as a short take-off and landing liaison aircraft and battlefield scout for the German Luftwaffe. The Storch, or Stork, proved to be one of the best aircraft of its type in any air force during World War II and was used extensively wherever German troops fought. Factories in both France and Czechoslovakia built Fi-156’s for the Luftwaffe; in fact, more were produced in France than in Germany. After the liberation of France the Morane-Saulnier Company continued to produce Storks, under the designation MS-500. Production of these aircraft continued until 1949.” http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/morane-saulnier-ms-500-criquet
North American BT-14A(N.A.57) Yale
General Motors TBM-3E Avenger
Consolidated Model 28-5AMC Canso A
“ The Consolidated PBY Catalina is the most successful flying-boat operated by the United States Navy during World War II and it is also the most produced flying boat in the world with more than 3000 being built in the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union.” http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/canso
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Serial Number 44-70016
Current Markings: 330th Bomb Group, K-40, “Quaker City” “Sentimental Journey” Guam 1945
“The B-29 was designed as what the Army Air Forces called a “Hemisphere Defense Weapon”. The 1940 specifications called for an aircraft capable of carrying 20,000 pounds of bombs for 5,333 miles at a speed of 400 miles per hour. While it did not meet all these goals the B-29 still carried more bombs, higher, farther and faster than any other bomber of World War II. It also introduced pressurized crew compartments to American military aircraft which allowed the crews to forego the heavy and awkward cold weather flying clothes that crews of other planes were forced to wear. Over 3,000 Superfortresses were built and many continued to serve the U.S. Air Force into the early 1950’s as bombers, reconnaissance planes, and as refueling tankers.
This B-29 served with the 330th Bomb Group and flew a total of 32 combat missions over Japan. After the war the aircraft was briefly placed in storage and was reactivated in 1946 for use as a radar calibration aircraft. The plane was flown to test air defense radars to ensure they were detecting and tracking targets correctly. It was finally retired in 1959” Museum label Pima Air & Space Museum
Curtiss C-46D Commando
North American P-51D Mustang
See the markings on the fuselage noting the pilot’s kills: seven Nazis, one Italian, one Japanese and one American. Curdes was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.
For more of Lt. Louis E. Curdes story:
90-mm M2A1 Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Gun
As you move between exhibit hangars, the visitor is treated to the specialized use of airplanes, how they affected history and their place in bringing aviation to today standards. The Space Race is also highlighted with an extensive exhibition that includes, the relationship of the race to the moon and the cold war on earth. Hangar 3 is dedicated to World War II using artifacts, photography and models to tell the story of the massive air campaign of the US in World War II and examine the significance and challenges of aircraft innovation that is credited with winning the war. Here you will see exhibits on the 376th Bomb Group, Black Aviators, 446th Bomb Group and the story of the men and women who built and flew the Martin B-26 Marauder during World War II. Hangar 4 continues the World War II journey with special exhibits dedicated to two very special Air Force groups, the 315th Bomb Wing and the 330th Bomb Group.
The 390th Memorial Museum
“Our mission is to honor and memorialize those veterans who provided ground support and flew the B-17 in the 390th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force in WWII, to serve as a window on the air war over Europe by the 390th and related Bomb Groups in that conflict, and to educate the public on their service and sacrifice in the cause of freedom.
The 390th Memorial Museum is entirely unique and personal, highlighted by the B-17 aircraft “I’ll Be Around” and centering on the experience of the veterans of the 390th Bombardment Group and their service to the nation in World War II.
The 390th Bombardment Group was one of forty-one Eight Air Force units based in England during WWII. “ 390th Memorial Museum label
See the virtual tours Pima Air & Space Museum has online:
390th Memorial Museum
World War II Hangars
Lockheed AP-2H Neptune Special attack 1945-1979
Boeing C97G Stratofreighter Transport 1952-1977
Grumman S2F-1 Tracker Anti-submarine 1952-1961
Grumman E-1 Tracer
Douglas EA-1F Skyraider 1955-1968
Boeing B-52G Stratofortress
Sepecat Jaguar GR 1 Fighter Bomber 1974-2007
Convair B-58A Hustler Convair B-58A Hustler is “the world’s first supersonic bomber and first to reach Mach 2.” http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/convair-b-58a-hustler
Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard Utility 1960-1989
Lockheed VC-121-A Constellation VIP Transport 1949-1968
“Dwight D. Eisenhower had two different VC-121As assigned as his personal transports at different times. This aircraft was the first. It served him during his time as the SHAPE commander in the early 1950s. All of Eisenhower’s Connies were called “Columbine” after the state flower of Colorado. The second VC-121A served “Ike” when he was President of the United States. Eisenhower also used one of the larger L-1079 (VC-121E) Connies as his third “Columbine” during his second term as President”. http://www.pimaair.org/aircraft-by-name/item/lockheed-c-121a-constellation
Sikorsky VH-34C Choctaw
Boeing VC-137B VIP Transport Freedom One
Grumman OV-IC Mohawk Observation 1958-1996
As visitors on the outdoor tour, you will see real, restored aircraft spanning the history of aviation, including the space program. The involvement of the US Military working in conjunction with private companies becomes evident as you tour planes from prop to supersonic.
Nunca Phoenix of Metal 2011 Spray paint on Douglas C-117 www.ericfirestonegallery.com
Visitors should check the calendar when planning their visit to Pima Air & Space Museum. Special Family Events are planned throughout the year as well as Kids Saturdays. Two of the more engaging family events are the, “Great Paper Airplane Fly Off”, where participants will learn the aerodynamics of creating the perfect paper airplane and take it to the runway for takeoff. The other heavily attended Special Family Event is, “Night of Fright”, of course a seasonal event in October to coincide with Halloween.
‘Soarin’ Saturdays for Kids’ is an interactive educational experience where children learn about flight and build models with the knowledge they attain during these 90-minute events.
The Pima Air & Space Museum offers sandwiches, snacks and airplane views at The Flight Grill when you are hit by hunger during your adventure at the world’s largest private air and space museum. The chefs at The Flight Grill are also available for private catering functions that can be arranged for unique events at the Pima Air & Space Museum. The museum does close for dedicated events when booked for private functions.
The Gift Shop offers all things flight and space with something for any age. Educational, playful and apparel gifts are available.
Begin planning your visit to Pima Air & Space Museum with a check of the online Calendar of Events where you can find extraordinary events that might occur during your visit, as well as special closings for events.
For information on annual memberships to the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Titan Missile Museum, the 390th Memorial Museum and the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame:
Story by Daniel Dachille and Laine Page
Some photos courtesy of Pima Air & Space Museum