History of Palm Springs Air Museum


1996 – History of How Palm Springs Air Museum Opened –

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 who agree that nothing could have happened without the many early volunteers.

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.

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.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.  A third hangar was opened in 1999, and a fourth hangar opened May of 2017.

Today over 100,000 visitors annually tour the 85,000 square foot non-profit entity housing over 59 vintage flying and static aircraft, the Berger Foundation Youth Exploration Center, the Berger Foundation Classroom Annex, the General Ken Miles Science Center, an upstairs Library and Education Center with over 9,200 volumes (many primary source materials), a Community Room, Theater and tons of wall exhibits.  Between October and May Saturday Commemorative Programs are included with museum admission.  Temporary traveling exhibitions and visiting aircraft enhance one’s visit to the museum. Past temporary exhibits / visiting aircraft have included the only flying B-29; the AVTT Vietnam Wall Memorial; the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum Bob Hope Exhibit; Ansel Adam’s Photos of Manzanar, the art exhibit, “Banned Booty: Passport Palm Springs” by artist Steve Maloney, Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam, and Salute to WW2 Flying Tigers in China.

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