There is always something new at the Palm Springs Air Museum, where history comes alive and visitors can get close to the vintage World War II and Korea/Vietnam era aircraft. Named in 2014 as one of the top 14 aviation museums in the world by CNN Travel, over 40 flyable and static planes are on display inside three climate-controlled hangars totaling 65,000 square feet and outside on the tarmac. Many of the docents inside the Museum actually flew these planes and served on the ships. The three hangars are organized by theme, with related exhibits lining the walls. Visitors enter through the Lobby, and pay at the Gift Shop to get their wristbands. From the Lobby, visitors can either go straight, past restrooms and the Buddy Rogers Theatre to the hangars or head upstairs by elevator or staircase to the 9,200 volume research library and Education Center. In the outer room of the Library are computer flight simulators to entertain and teach the principles of flight to people of all ages.
The Pacific (Navy) Hangar includes exhibits and aircraft used by the Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Highlights include the Pearl Harbor diorama narrated by NBC journalist and author Tom Brokaw, the Grumman “cats”; the Avenger, Corsair, Dauntless and Invader. The PBY Catalina Flying Boat is usually on the Tarmac. Ship models, uniforms and weapon display cabinets complement the large wall Pacific Map and the aviation art by American Stan Stokes. Be sure and check out the Honor Wall showing our docent veterans! Temporarily available is also the Vietnam POW Bracelet exhibit – both the case containing the bracelets and the nearby wall with the chronological order of the POWs and the history of the bracelet.
The European (Army) Hangar features exhibits and aircraft used by the Army in the European Theater during World War II, plus a T-33 training jet used in Korea and Vietnam. Highlights of this hangar include the B-25 Mitchell Bomber, P-47 Thunderbolt, the renovated flying Red Tail P-51 Mustang; the P-63 King Cobra, the PT-17 Stearman, the Spitfire and the C-47 (when not flying, otherwise it’s out on the Tarmac). Other highlights in this hangar include the Tuskegee Airmen mural, the interactive Living History Kiosk, the large wall European Map with interactive display, the Women Pilots of WWII exhibit and the Jackie Cochran exhibit. Portions of Chris Demarest’s World War Two Journey are on display in both hangars.
The third and smallest hangar contains the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Berger Youth Exploration Center with fun, interactive activities for young people, the Gen. Ken Miles Aviation Science Center, Freedom Fighters’ Café and restrooms. Flag and engine displays are also in this hangar. Visitors can see our mechanics working on one of our vintage aircraft.
Breaking ground June of 2016 will be construction for the new General Kenneth P. Miles Hangar, which will house our Korea and Vietnam aircraft and supporting exhibits, including the new POW Bracelet exhibit currently in the Pacific Hangar. Check out the plans on our General Miles Hangar page on our website.
Visitors can tour the interior of a flyable B-17 and C-47 (when not flying). Flight exhibitions occur most Saturday afternoons November through May. The Annual Flower Drop & Air Fair occurs every Memorial Day.
Documentaries are shown daily in the Buddy Rogers Theatre. On-going lecture series highlights the significance of Air Power and as much as possible include eye-witness accounts.
Museum hours are 10 am – 5 pm, open daily except closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Fri, Feb. 12, 2016 when the Museum readies for its annual fundraiser that evening. The Museum is available for catered events and site rentals. Group rates and docent-led tours are available with two-weeks notice. Annual memberships start at $60 per year. Daily rates are $16.50 for adults; $14.50 for seniors 65 and over and students 13-17; $9.50 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under and active military with ID & immediate family are free. There is a Family rate of $36 for one or two adults and 3 children 12 and under, and a family rate of $46 for one or two adults and 3 children 13 to 17.