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In late 1993 the idea for a Palm Springs Air Museum sprang from the imaginations of three men: Charlie Mayer, Pete Madison and Dr. Mort Gubin. Charlie, Pete & Mort were conversing one day during a break in an airport commission meeting and looked out the big window when Charlie said “Why not an air museum with WWII Warbirds right here in Palm Springs?” Former P-38 pilot Pete Madison had just bought Bob Pond’s home, and knew Pond had a collection of Warbirds and classic cars in Minnesota. Pond was trained as a Naval Aviator, and was known as a person who could get things done. Pond attended a meeting and declared his willingness to help. Thanks to his support and contacts in aviation, the concept moved forward.
The Palm Springs City Council next came on board. Bill Byrne served on the Board of the Desert Water Agency and provided the first meeting space. Between them, they knew many key people who would help along the way. The fledgling organization incorporated and the law firm of Best, Best & Krieger, and Lou Silva, CPA, gave their services pro bono. 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. The nine original Board of Directors were 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. Messrs. Zack Pitts and Stan Rosine gifted the use of office space at 109 S. Indian Avenue. Things were beginning to take shape. A great deal of critical preliminary work was done by Secretary Bill Byrne and volunteer Harold Williamson who became President in December 1994.
Construction started in Feb 1996 and the Museum opened to the public on Nov. 11, 1996 with two hangars. Shortly after opening, plans were made to add a third hangar to the museum to house a B-17 bomber. In 1999, the hangar was completed and opened to the public. It would be another 18 years before another hangar would added to the museum. The Major General Kenneth P. Miles hangar opened in 2017, providing an enclosed hangar to the numerous Korea/Vietnam aircraft in the museum’s collection. Five years after the opening of the Korea/Vietnam hangar, the F-117 Pavilion was officially opened in April of 2022. Housing the F-117A Nighthawk, the James R. Houston Pavilion is a state of the art hangar.
The Palm Springs Air Museum has officially announced plans to remodel the front of the facility. The project will cost $2.5 million and two years to complete. It will re-structure how guests enter/exit the facility, as well as add a 400 seat classroom/presentation space.