© 2013 Palm Springs Air Museum
745 North Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs, California 92262
The significance of World War Two is unparalleled in all of the history of the
world in that it was the greatest, most costly conflict ever fought, taking the lives
of more than 70 million people. It was Air Power that altered the outcome of that
war and forever changed the lives of every person alive today.
The Museum contains one of the world's largest collections of flying World War II
military aircraft, many courtesy of Mr. Robert Pond. There are also aircraft on
loan from the US Navy, and private owners. An average of 29 aircraft are on
display on a daily basis.
Aircraft are flown often in conjunction with education programs and seminars.
Operational aircraft also periodically visit and are open to the public. A schedule
of events is published that list up-coming programs and seminars, flight
demonstrations, and temporary exhibitions.
Fine quality aviation art is located throughout the institution, from small
watercolors to massive murals by renowned artist Stan Stokes.
Original combat photography is used to take the viewers back in time, vividly
showing the collection in operational use during World War II. For example, the
exhibition "Fast Carrier Task Force", located in the Pacific Theater of Operations
Hangar, uses photographs taken by combat cameramen. They show aircraft
operating from the fast carriers, in flight in large formations, and details of the
fast carriers' tactics, operations, support ships, and personnel.
The Museum possesses a fine collection of relevant aircraft and ship models that
are also used to help to interpret the main theme, that of explaining the
significance of air power upon the outcome of World War II. Acquisitions and
donations of artifacts, memorabilia, and libraries have been overwhelming,
adding to the Museum's offerings and enhancing its reputation as both a
resource and a history classroom.
The Palm Springs Air Museum contains approximately 70,000 sq. ft. of interior
display space, environmentally controlled within three large display hangars. The
institution is on a ten acre site that includes visitor parking, ramp access to the
Palm Springs International Airport for visiting display aircraft, exterior displays,
and an aircraft ramp for special shows and flight demonstration viewing.
See Directors & Officers
How did it all happen?
It was late 1993 when the original concept and inspiration for the Palm Springs
Air Museum sprang from the collective imaginations and thinking of four men;
namely Charlie Mayer, Bill Byrne, Pete Madison and Dr. Mort Gubin. Many others
contributed in many ways and these four men would agree wholeheartedly that
nothing could have happened without the many early volunteers.
It seems Charlie and Bill were having a conversation one day when a P-51 flew
low overhead and caught their attention. They looked at each other in
amazement and suddenly "the lights went on." "Why not an air museum
featuring WWII Warbirds right here in Palm Springs?" Their friend, Pete Madison,
a former P-38 pilot, was told of the idea and agreed to contact his friend Bob
Pond, who he knew had a deep interest in aviation, having been trained as a
Naval Aviator. He also knew Mr. Pond had been actively collecting and rebuilding
Warbirds and classic cars for a number of years and was recognized as a person
who could get things done. Pond was subsequently invited to hear a
presentation at an Airport Commission meeting and afterward he declared he
was interested in becoming involved. Thanks to his support and his contacts in
the field of aviation, a basis was established from which they could move
When the idea of an Air Museum was brought to the Palm Springs City Council,
they liked the concept and threw their full weight behind it. It took off
immediately. It helped that Charlie Mayer and Pete Madison were members of
the Airport Commission. and Bill Byrne served on the Board of the Desert Water
Agency. Between them they knew many key people who would be of valuable
assistance along the way. The fledgling organization needed to be incorporated
and the law firm of Best, Best & Krieger, and Lou Silva, CPA, offered their
services pro bono to clear this hurdle.
Incorporation: The Organizational Certificate of Incorporation of Palm Springs Air
Museum, Inc. was dated January 5, 1994 and signed by Harold N. "Pete"
Madison, Charles H. Mayer and Bill Byrne.
It shows the nine original Board of Directors to be: Harold N. "Pete" Madison,
Charles H. Mayer, Bill Byrne, Morton Gubin, M.D., John Lake, D.D.S., Philip Hixon,
Rozene Supple, John Duncan, and Harold Williamson.
In order to conduct business, office space was required. Messrs. Zack Pitts and
Stan Rosine gifted the use of space at 109 S. Indian Avenue. Things were
definitely beginning to take shape.
During 1994 much work was done contacting other museums, working with
architects, raising money, conducting feasibility studies, etc. A great deal of this
critical preliminary work was done by Bill Byrne who was Secretary and Harold
Williamson who was still working as a volunteer, until he became President in
Land Acquisition: In September, 1994 a ten-acre parcel of land was acquired on
the Palm Springs Airport property under a forty-year lease arrangement with
options. Government agencies such as the FAA and DOT had to be contacted
and one by one the barriers were removed.
During 1995, architectural plans were drawn for a 50,000 sq. ft. facility that
would provide hangar space as well as offices and entertainment areas. In the
meantime, fund raising became of paramount importance.
After retaining the services of professional fund raisers with little or no results, it
was decided to do it in-house. Presentations were made at several of the more
prominent country clubs to inform the membership of activity towards
development of the Air Museum. This was followed up with personal contact by
Museum Board members to request financial support.
Not one penny of public tax dollars was spent to promote and develop this
Construction: On February 15, 1996 Lusardi Construction pulled the permit for
construction of the museum on a design/build contract. Completion date was set
for May 28th.
On July 4th, 3500 local citizens attended a Pancake Breakfast and Membership
Drive at the facility which featured almost-empty hangars with stark white
The time between occupancy in June 1996, and the opening on November 11th
was spent receiving airplanes and preparing the interior. Joe Wertheimer did the
large wall maps and sillouette displays, with volunteer assistance. The
maintenance and ready rooms were constructed by Jean Pierre and the
volunteers. Fritz Frauchiger worked on the initial displays and signage. Stan
Stokes spent the better part of the summer painting the Battle of Midway mural
that graces the lobby.
The Museum officially opened on Veterans Day, November 11, 1996 with
approximately 5,000 visitors in attendance.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is a non-profit educational institution whose
mission is to exhibit, educate and honor World War II combat aircraft and the
role the pilots and American citizens had in achieving this great victory. In
addition to flying aircraft, related artifacts, artwork, and library sources are used
to perpetuate American history.