The Best Western Air Museums

We have visited some very unique air museums in the western United States and we have offered a brief description of each below. All are quite unique in their own way and might make a good addition to your western vacation planner if your travels take you to California, Arizona or Oregon.

north american fighter planes

North American O-47B

Planes of Fame

The museum was first established in 1957 in Claremont California by Ed Maloney as the Air Museum. Today the museum is known by that name and also as Planes of Fame, located at the Chino California Airport. The museum expanded at it became apparent that a second location should be added. The Arizona museum opened in 1995 at the reopened Valle-Grand Canyon Airport which at one time served as a TWA facility.

This site is located halfway between Williams Arizona and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The Valle-Grand Canyon site displays over 40 of the Museum’s vintage aircraft with many of them being flyable. Many of the vintage aircraft are kept flyable by the people who donate both funds and aircraft parts to the museum. Additionally many people have donated their time to help maintain the aircraft. Aircraft restoration is a big part of what this organization does.

mohawk aircraft

OV-1 Mohawk

At the Chino California museum…Grumman Bearcat, Grumman Avenger, Vought Corsair, Grumman Hellcat, North American Mustang, Misubishi Zero, Lockheed Lightening.

At the Valle-Grand Canyon Arizona museum…Standard W.W. I Trainer, Curtiss Robin Flying Replica, Martin Airliner, North America Trojan, Billy Walker Nieuport Flying Replica.

Pacific Coast Air Museum

If you’re planning a San Francisco vacation and/or a wine country tour, I think you’ll find a visit to the Pacific Coast Air Museum a very historically interesting side trip. It’s one of the best aviation museums on the west coast and a lot of fun for the entire family, young and old.

california air museums

Pacific Coast Air Museum

From San Francisco drive north on U.S. Hwy 101 through Santa Rosa. Exit Hwy 101 at Airport Rd. and turn left. Off Airport Rd. turn left on N. Laughlin Road and then right on Becker Blvd. Parking is near the museum entrance. Their phone number is 707-575-7900 .

The Museum is located on the grounds of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

The museum has on display a very historic aircraft that took part in the U.S. military’s response to September 2001 terrorist attacks. This aircraft is the genuine F-15A which was the first military jet that responded over the skies of New York City during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. It’s obviously a unique display to have and I would recommend you stop and give it a look if you are anywhere near Santa Rosa or Windsor California.

Below are photos and information on just two of the aircraft on display at the Pacific Coast Air Museum.

grumman tracker airplane

Grumman Tracker

The Grumman S-2A Tracker

The Grumman S-2A Tracker was built for the military as a submarine hunter aircraft. The plane is powered with two Wright Twin Cyclone R-1820 nine cylinder radial engines. Each engine produces 1,500 horsepower.

The cruise speed of this aircraft is 150 MPH with a top speed of 195 MPH. The Grumman S-2A has an empty weight of 18,750 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of 27,000 pounds. Dimensions are a 70 ft wing span, 43 ft 6 in length, 16 ft 7 in height and a wing area of 496 sq ft.

uh-1 huey helicopter

UH-1 Huey

The UH-1H Huey on display at the Pacific Coast Air Museum was restored and updated and displays markings of the 188th Assault Helicopter Company referred to as the “Black Widows“.

This particular helicopter saw combat action in Vietnam flown by “Black Widow” air crews. When the Pacific Coast Air Museum acquired this helicopter it was being used by the California National Guard. The restoration was performed by Vietnam Vets from the Black Widow unit. Other markings seen on this aircraft include the bulls-eye of the 269th Combat Aviation Battalion, white markings belonging to the 2nd Platoon and the 2nd Platoon’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” door marking.

See the articles on our Western Trips site on the links below…

Visit a Rocket Museum in Albuquerque NM

Wiley Post and His Record Setting Lockheed Vega

The U.S.S. Hornet / Alameda California

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

If your western travel plans include the Columbia River area of Oregon, make a point to stop and visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum in Hood River Oregon. Without a doubt, you will find this one of the most unique airplane and vintage auto museum in the U.S. Once restored by our volunteers, all of the antique cars and planes at this excellent museum can and do run.

hood river oregon air museum

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum features over one-hundred vintage and classic autos plus about seventy-five flyable antique aircraft.

This is all under one roof. Aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles, tractors, military jeeps are all on display. One of the impressive vintage airplanes on exhibit at WAAM is the Beechcraft airplane E18 S shown below. This is the post World War Two “Super 18” and is remarkably restored.

The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum is located at 1600 Air Museum Rd, Hood River, OR.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

The Pacific Coast Air Museum

pacific coast air museum There is an absolutely excellent air museum located in beautiful Sonoma County California. The Pacific Coast Air Museum located at the Charles Schulz Sonoma County Airport in the Sonoma Valley has a terrific display of military aircraft and as an added bonus it’s right in the middle of the popular Sonoma County wine country. Because of this, a visit to the many wineries in the area and a side trip to the Pacific Coast Air Museum makes for a great weekend outing. The Sonoma County Airport is about three miles northwest of Santa Rosa California and just south of the town of Windsor. The Pacific Coast Air Museum operates as a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the acquisition, restoration, safe operation and display of historic aircraft. In addition, the museum serves as an educational venue for students and the community. This aviation museum is a must stop.

f 15 fighter jetThe Pacific Coast Air Museum was very fortunate to receive one of the first two fighter jets that scrambled over New York City during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The historic “First Responder” aircraft, designated “102”, was retired to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ on July 31, 2006 after nearly thirty years of service.This aircraft  “102” was the wing commander’s aircraft and was the lead aircraft that responded from the alert shelters at Otis ANGB that day. In 2009 the National Museum of the United States Air Force awarded the Pacific Coast Air Museum with this same aircraft “102” . The aircraft was partially disassembled and transported from AMARC in Tucson to the Pacific Coast Air Museum in December 2010. Since that time the aircraft has been reassembled and is now on exhinit at the Sonoma County air museum. As you can imagine this is probably one of the most unique historic aircraft exhibits on the entire West Coast and I think you’ll find it quite interesting.

The Pacific Coast Air Museum also hosts the “Wings Over Wine Country Air Show each August which draws thousands of people. The air show features both military aircraft demonstrations along with some of the best civilian aerobatic displays found at any air show in America. I have attended this air show several times and it’s a good one.A visit to the Pacific Coast Air Museum makes for a great Sonoma Valley wine country vacation or weekend trip.

The Santa Rosa airport is in the popular Sonoma Valley and is very near some of the best wineries in the area. The Kendall-Jackson is about a five minute drive away to the south. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery is just to the northwest and the city of Healdsburg is about a ten minute drive north of the airport.

The Sonoma County Airport is also served by Horizon Airlines which allows Sonoma Valley tourists the opportunity of flying directly to Santa Rosa to begin their Santa Rosa Sonoma County wine and air museum tour.

Driving directions to the Pacific Coast Air Museum from Santa Rosa California: Take Highway 101 north and exit at Airport Blvd and drive west. Turn left on N. Laughlin Road and then turn right on Becker Road. Parking is located right at the museum entrance.