Texas World War II Aircraft Exhibits / San Marcos Regional Airport

japanese zero replica

There are plenty of fine venues for viewing vintage and historical airplanes in Texas. One special venue is located in San Marcos, Texas and called the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum. Located at the San Marcos Regional Airport and operated by the Central Texas Wing, this museum displays a very interesting collection of aircraft including a B-25 Mitchell bomber, replicas of a Japanese Zero and a Japanese Torpedo Bomber, a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane and several others Also many smaller artifacts from the war years.

texas world war two aircraftThe Museum Hangar

The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum is located inside a hangar built during the days of World War Two. During the war, the San Marcos Army Airfield was a navigator training school. There were an estimated 10,000 navigators trained at this airfield.

When the war ended, the San Marcos Army Airfield was deactivated. Military helicopter training brought the airfield back to life from 1948 to 1949. It was the largest helicopter flight training base in the U.S. After this second deactivation, the San Marcos airfield became San Marcos Air Force Base in 1951. The field was given the new name of Gary Air Force Base, named for the first soldier from Hays County Texas killed in World War Two, in 1953, later named Edward Gary Air Force Base and was deactivated for the last time in 1956.

mitchell b-25 bomber yellow rose

Mitchell B-25 Bomber “Yellow Rose”

The hangar where the Commemorative Air Force Museum resides at today’s San Marcos Regional Airport is the last remaining hangar there from the days of World War Two. The wooden hangar was one of three built in 1942 shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Museum’s B-25 Mitchell Bomber

The B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Yellow Rose”, built in 1943 by North American Aviation, is one of the key exhibits at the museum. The bomber is completely restored to its wartime capabilities and is operated by the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The restoration effort took four years to complete. It is one of the flying museum pieces belonging to the organization’s “Ghost Squadron” aircraft collection.

The “Yellow Rose” goes on tour each year to an average of twenty-five cities and towns. This B-25 let’s people get a real close up look at this historic sixty plus year aircraft. You may even have a chance to crawl through this flying museum.

Japanese Zero Replica

Two other aircraft exhibited at the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum are Japanese World War Two aircraft. One of the planes is a Japanese Zero and the other a Japanese Torpedo Bomber “Kate”. The Japanese Zero and Torpedo Bomber, both replicas, were built for the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

American Military Aircraft

The Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

Visit the Old Santa Fe Railroad Depot / Brownwood Texas

japanese zero replica

Japanese Zero replica

Visiting the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum

Museum hours of operation are Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Saturday 9:00-4:00 There is no admission charge but a recommended $3 donation is appreciated to keep them flying. The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum operates as a non-profit.

The museum is located at the San Marcos Regional Airport in San Marcos, Texas. San Marcos is located about 30 miles south of Austin along Interstate-35. For more information regarding the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum, aircraft, activities and shows planned around Texas by the Central Texas Wing see website…http://cafcentex.com/

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

 

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

uss midway museum

If your travels take you to San Diego, California, a visit to the historic  USS Midway Museum is a must. Here you’ll be able to explore a real aircraft carrier and one which was the longest serving aircraft carrier of the twentieth century. During her forty seven years in service, the USS Midway had a total of about 200,000 servicemen assigned to the vessel.

uss midway museum

USS Midway

On 30 September 2003, the USS Midway  began her journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Wash., to San Diego where she would be a Museum and Memorial. She was docked at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, Calif., in October, while the construction of her pier in San Diego was completed.

The USS Midway is now docked in San Diego Bay just east of the downtown area and has been transformed into one of the most visited ship museums in the world.

Explore the USS Midway

The USS Midway CV-41, was the third vessel named Midway. Named after the Battle of Midway,

uss midway aircraft

The massive hangar deck of the USS Midway

The ship is amazingly restored and full of really interesting exhibits. The ship is literally a floating city at sea. During it’s operational years the USS Midway carried about 4,500 crew members.

Your trip though the USS Midway will take you to the crews quarters, the officers quarters, the four acre flight deck and other portions of this magnificent vessel. Your admission includes a self-guided audio tour to over 60 locations from the engine room to the flight deck. When exploring the hangar deck which housed many of the aircraft you’ll notice the large elevators on either side of the ship that raised the planes from the hangar deck up to the flight deck.

The USS Midway Service

The USS Midway was operational from 1945 to 1992. It was commissioned one week after the end of World War Two. The vessel served in every ocean on the planet.

The ship is 1,001 feet in length which is about the size of three football fields. Weighing 70,000 tons the USS MIdway is as high as a twenty story building. Each of her two anchors weigh 20 tons. The ship could carry eighty planes.

More interesting facts regarding this vessel include…

  • During three tours of duty in the Tonkin Gulf, aircraft from the USS MIDWAY downed the first three and last MiG in the Vietnam conflict.
  • USS MIDWAY was the first carrier to be “forward deployed” in a foreign country, sailing for 17 years out of Yokosuka, Japan.
  • When operating at sea, USS MIDWAY was refueled every three days. She burned approximately 100,000 gallons a day.

A Perfect Family Museum

The USS Midway is a terrific museum adventure for the entire family. The vessel is literally a floating city. On board the USS Midway, you can learn about life on a Navy ship and how aircraft land and take off from an aircraft carrier. Visitors can tour many of the working areas and see more than 15 restored aircraft. Volunteer docents, many who either served on the USS Midway or are former Navy pilots, provide live talks about the catapult and other operations.

See additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Great Museum and a Sunken Whale Ship

The Palace Steamers of the Great Lakes

Crossing the Atlantic with Marconi’s Wireless

Your La Jolla California Getaway

An excellent book regarding the USS Midway is…USS Midway: America’s Shield by author Scott McGaugh.

Things to Know Before Your Visit

  • Many doorways have a high threshold, and there are many stairs, some of them quite steep. Wear comfortable shoes with soles that give you firm footing.
  • Elevators provide access to the hangar deck and flight deck
  • Bring a light jacket; it can be windy on the Flight Deck
  • Leave the big bags behind. Only modest-sized diaper bags and camera bags are allowed
  • If you have a child in a stroller, either take them out and park the stroller at the entrance or be prepared to skip visiting many parts of the ship.

uss midway san diego

The self-guided USS Midway audio tour is included in the entrance fee (available in English, Spanish and Japanese). The audio tour incorporates the voices of many who served on the USS Midway. They tell the stories of their experiences on board the aircraft carrier.

The USS Midway Museum is open daily 10A to 5P. The last admission is at 4p. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

(Article and Photos copyright Trips Into History)

 

The Story of the Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The airplane model featured in this article has won more aerobatic contests than any other aircraft in the U.S. Today the plane still remains a powerful competitor. The Pitts Special S1 is one of the most famous airplanes in civilian aircraft history. It has performed at more air shows than any other type of aerobatic aircraft.

pitts special plane

Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The Pitts Special aerobatic planes were designed by Curtiss Pitts and took to the air in 1944. Pitts built a limited number of planes and two models were built from the original model. These were a one-seater called the S-1 and a two-seater called the S-2.

A Rough Beginning Followed by Recognition

When Curtiss Pitts set put to build an airplane, the intention was to build only one for himself.The trouble is, when a airplane you build performs so good, word spreads. The face of aerobatic flying was changed forever when Pitts built his first plane. That plane today is one of the most recognized American built aerobatic airplane.

The first plane built by Pitts which had a home built inverted fuel system was destroyed in a crash. In 1946, Curtiss Pitts received an order for ten of his planes but before they could be delivered the purchaser filed for bankruptcy. At that time only one plane was completed and it was eventually sold to a Miami, Florida firm called World Air Shows.

pitts special s 1

Pitts Special S-1

As it turned out, this sale of only one Pitts Special to World Air Shows would help achieve world wide recognition for this remarkable aircraft. The plane that World Air Shows purchased would be flown by a young aerobatic pilot named Betty Skelton.

Betty Skelton who was later called “The fastest woman on earth“, flew the Pitts Special to several competitive wins. Skelton won the National Aerobatics Championship three times. She was the first woman to attempt the “inverted ribbon cut,” in which she would fly upside down only ten feet off the ground, slicing a ribbon with her propeller of her Pitts Special. Betty Skelton twice set light-plane altitude records, attaining an atitude of 29,050 feet in a Piper Cub in 1951. Even though the planes engine exploded during flight Skelton achieved an unofficial women’s air speed record of 421 mph in a P-51 Mustang.

Later, Betty Skelton worked in advertising and test driving Corvettes. Skelton held the honor of being the first woman to drive a Pace Car at the Daytona 500.

See these additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Heathkit Home Built Airplanes

Some of the Best Western U.S. Air Museums

The USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

From our Western Trips site see...Wiley Post and His Record Setting Lockheed Vega Airplane

An excellent book to add to your reading list is …Pitts Specials: Curtiss Pitts and his Legendary Biplanes by author Budd Davisson. There are also several books for youngsters regarding Betty Skelton which you may find interesting. One of these is titled, Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by author Meghan McCarthy.

The Pitts Special Specifications

The Pitts Special had a Lycoming 180 HP engine.

Maximum speed was rated at 176 MPH with a range of 315 miles.

Upper wingspan measured 17 ft 4 in. Length 15 ft 5 in and height 6 ft 3 in.

Gross weight was 1,148 lbs. Service ceiling was 22,300 ft.

The Pitts Special Legend

Homebuilt planes were built from the original plans sold by Pitts who later sold more refined technical plans starting in the 1960′s. Curtis Pitts left perhaps the biggest mark on aerobatics and air shows with his innovative airplane designs.

The International Council of Air Shows Foundation says this about the Pitts planes…From the first prototype to the hundreds of Pitts Specials that have performed at air shows over the last half century to the design ideas taken from the Pitts Special and integrated into today’s high-performance monoplanes, much of what air show flying is all about today can be traced back to the Pitts Special”. All Pitts one and two seat planes designed can be traced directly back to the Pitts Special of 1944.

It’s been said that Curtiss Pitts didn’t invent aerobatics or small planes. He also didn’t invent bi-planes. What Curtiss Pitts achieved was to mold all of these together into what today is the art of modern aerobatics.

curtiss pitts aerobatic plane

Curtiss Pitts, an aviation pioneer, died at his home in Homestead, Florida in June 2005.

As of this writing, a sample list of several museums around the U.S. where Pitts Specials are on display include…The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C….The San Diego Automobile Museum in San Diego, CA…The Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, CA and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. There are more displays plus you’ll likely see a Pitt Special or two when attending your local air show.

betty skelton

Betty Skelton Frankman

Please note that there is also a Betty Skelton collection at the National Air and Space Museum.

Betty Skelton began flying airplanes at the age of twelve years and as mentioned above won many titles in the Pitts Special. After Skelton’s retirement from aviation, she joined Chevrolet with their development of the popular and unique fiberglass Corvette. Betty Skelton also set several records behind the wheel of the Chevy Corvette.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History. Betty Skelton Frankman photo in the Public Domain)

Visit the Historic Seeley Stable Museum / Old Town San Diego

seeley stable old town san diego

Old Town San Diego is really a must stop if your travels take you to this beautiful southern California city. There are several historic attractions in Old Town. One of those is the Seeley Stables which tell a excellent story about the very early days of San Diego. The Seeley Stables Museum can be found at 2630 Calhoun Street in Old Town.

seeley stable old town san diego

Seeley Stable, Old Town San Diego

Seeley Stable was used to stable horses and house stagecoaches. Seeley’s Stable would repair and make ready carriages. It would store and board horses and mules and offer rentals. When horse drawn transportation was a necessity, the stable was one of the more important businesses in town.

Albert Seeley also happened to operate a stagecoach line between Old Town San Diego and Los Angeles.

Old Town San Diego is a California Historical Park. Most of the historic structures are arrayed around the town square or plaza. When you stroll around the plaza you’ll find the Seeley Stables located adjacent to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the oldest surviving building in San Diego. The hotel opened in 1869.

concord stagecoach san diego old town

Seeley’s San Diego to Los Angeles Stagecoach

Visiting the Seeley Stables Museum

The original Seeley Stable which was built circa 1869 was demolished in 1920.

The stables were reconstructed in 1974 using the same wood that was on the original stable.

The stables house a fine collection of 19th-century overland transportation gear and vehicles, including a carreta (an ox-drawn cart), mud wagon. The collection includes a Concord stage and a large  two-wagon freighter. Most of these original wagons and carriages were given to California State parks by Roscoe E. Hazard, a former rancher and retired highway contractor. The story of the wagons and their uses is told  with signs and stories of the past also exhibited in the stables.

One thing you’ll take back from this museum visit is a good understanding of how stables used to operate and the importance that they played in everyday lives. This is a free museum which covers two floors of what had been the old Seeley Stable.

The first floor is mainly a display of the types of wagons and coaches over various decades. The second floor exhibits items that would be found in the stables, on cowboys of the period, and Native American historical pieces.

The Seeley Stage Line

California’s first stage lines began at the time of the Gold Rush. They connected towns like  Sacramento to San Francisco, San Francisco with San Jose and several others.

Although railroads certainly did take their toll on local stage lines, San Diego didn’t find itself immediately on a rail line and the stagecoach business there lasted some time after others had ceased or greatly curtailed operations.

As mentioned above, Albert Seeley operated a stage line between San Diego and Los Angeles. This line opened in 1871. At the start the stagecoach and freighting business was in demand. Albert Seeley expanded his services by contracting with Wells Fargo for a route between San Diego and the gold mines in Cuyamacas as well as a route between Julien and San Bernardino.  The line was 130 miles in length. California is a big state and during this era  travel time between communities could be measured in days, not minutes.

The photo above is of an original stagecoach from that line. It is on display in the Seeley Stable Museum in Old Town.

authentic wells fargo stage

Authentic Wells Fargo Concord Stagecoach in Old Town

The Seeley Stage left San Diego at 5A and stopped for the night in San Juan Capistrano. The stagecoach would arrive in Los Angeles at 4P the following day.

The stage line eventually went out of business primarily due to the railroad. Seeley’s stage line ceased running the San Diego-Los Angeles route in 1887 but continued with a local San Diego-Ocean Beach route

The All Important Freight Line

If passengers were transported by stagecoaches then freight would be transported by freight wagons. Railroads would go on to take a lot of business from the freighters but the local freighters would still hang on for years.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

The Wells Fargo Concord Stagecoach / Photos and History

The Vortexes of Sedona Arizona / Where to Find Them

Your La Jolla California Getaway

Reasons You’ll Enjoy a Rocky Mountain Vacation

san diego wells fargo museum

Wells Fargo Museum, Old Town

Visiting Old Town San Diego

A visit to Old Town San Diego is a must stop when touring this beautiful west coast city.

Old Town San Diego is located north of the downtown district of San Diego but was the site of the original settlement.

Touring Old Town is a lot of fun. Most of the shops and historic structures are located around a plaza. Some of these are original adobe structures. Along with the historic structures, some housing unique museums, there are several choices for dining whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Entertainment is also offered at some venues.

As mentioned earlier, Old Town San Diego is a State Historic Park. Current posted hours are daily 10A-5P and admission is free.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

 

 

Drive the High Road To Taos / NM Road Trips

chimayo new mexico shrine

The High Road to Taos is a great scenic drive in northern New Mexico and a culturally rich drive. This part of New Mexico is an artist mecca and it’s also a great side trip while visiting either Santa Fe or Taos.

rancho de taos mission

Mission in Rancho de Taos

A 56 Mile Scenic Drive

The High Road to Taos drive is 56 miles in total length as it winds it’s way along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos. Your drive will take you through art communities and it’s unique galleries as well as through Native American villages.

The south end of this drive begins at the intersection of US Hwy 285/84 and NM 503, about 17 miles north of Santa Fe. The northern end of this route is at Rancho de Taos where NM 518 meets NM 68. Most New Mexican’s however consider the end to be at the San Francisco de Asis Mission church which is in Rancho de Taos. Any road trip in northern New Mexico promises to be a scenic adventure with incredible photo opportunities, and the High Road to Taos is a perfect example.

truchas new mexico

Art gallery in remote Truchas, NM

A Culture Rich Scenic Drive

You’ll find that the High Road to Taos is dotted with towns, some quite small, that tell the story of the early years of Spanish rule. You may find that the local dialect is distinctive, and many area residents can claim ancestors who settled the towns in the 18th century.

The Spaniards left New Mexico (Nuevo Mexico) in about 1821 as a result of the Mexican Revolution. Mexico maintained rule until1846 when the U.S. took control during the Mexican American War.

Galleries Along the High Road to Taos

Many of the tourists who travel this road remark how remote these towns are. Some of these quaint high desert towns are geographically remote yet at the same time feature .  unique art galleries. You’ll find that the authentic quality of New Mexican artwork is alive and well there and rival the galleries in Santa Fe and Taos. Artists have been inspired by the remarkable scenery along the High Road to Taos route.

This area of northern New Mexico receives it’s share of snow and cold weather. That’s one of the reasons that ski slopes in Santa Fe and Taos attract so many winter tourists. Some, not all, of the galleries along the High Road to Taos also stay open year round.

The High Road Art Tour

One special time along this famous route is during the last half of September. This is the time of the “High Road Art Tour‘ which takes place the last two weekends every September.

The High Road Art Tour gives you the opportunity to deal directly with the artists as well as to visit the tiny, historic Spanish Land Grant villages along the way. You’ll be able to browse multiple crafts and all types of traditional works along with contemporary painting and arts. This has to be one of the most unique art tour routes in all of the U.S. The High Road Art Tour is put together each year by the High Road Artisans, a volunteer-run organization. You may want to visit their website for additional information and event postings at  highroadnewmexico.com

See additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…..

The Old Turquoise Mines of Cerillos NM / A Short Hiking Trip

A Spanish Mission in Rancho de Taos NM

Reasons You’ll Enjoy a Rocky Mountain Vacation

Visit Spectacular Bryce Canyon, Utah

chimayo new mexico shrine

El Sancturario de Chimayo

Chimayo, New Mexico

The High Road to Taos will also pass by the town of Chimayo which is home to El Sancturario de Chimayo

The Chimayo Sancturario is a world renown mission church and shrine that dates back to the very first Spanish settlers in the area and is considered a shrine where over 300,000 visitors travel there annually.  Sancturario de Chimayo is a religious shrine. This is a must stop while driving the High Road route. 

Northern New Mexico offers the tourist many interesting historic venues to visit along with several very scenic road trip routes. If time permits during your visits to either Santa Fe or Taos, the High Road to Taos is a road trip you don’t want to miss.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)