Planes of Fame Air Museum

USAF Lockheed VC-121A on the Constellation used by Douglas MacArthur in Korea.
Photo by: USAF, Creative Commons

Museums are supposed to be large, stuffy, and closed halls filled with dusty artifacts, old paintings, and untouchable exhibits. Don’t expect any of that in this extraordinary showcase of the wonders of flight.

The Planes of Fame Air Museum can be found mainly in Chino, California, but the huge collection of flyable – yes, at least 30 are flyable and flown during the museum’s monthly and annual air shows – and exhibit aircraft it has assembled over the years has caused it to open another facility in Valle, Arizona in 1995, containing over 40 aircraft.

First opened in 1957, the museum was then known simply as “The Air Museum”. Volunteers recovered aircraft which would have otherwise been scrapped or melted down and set out to make these flyable once again. The museum’s collection grew over the years and it moved a lot until it finally settled at the Chino Airport in California in the 1970s.

Visitors to the museum at either Chino or Valle will be able to see a huge collection of airplanes – both restored and unrestored – from the First World War, the Second World War, and on to the jet age. There are also a few military ground vehicles such as tanks on display. Some of the aircraft and vehicles of the museum have also appeared in movies like Pearl Harbor. They have also been shown on television and featured in books.

As an added treat, members of the museum are allowed to take up a few of the aircraft on “orientation flights” and experience firsthand what it actually felt like to be in the cockpit of a famous aircraft. Who wouldn’t want to actually go up in a Dauntless dive bomber or race through the sky in a P-51 Mustang or shoot for the stars in a T-33 Shooting Star jet plane? This is the place to go for anyone who ever dreamt of flying.

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