Some of the Finest Western Aircraft Museums

Aircraft enthusiasts and historians will enjoy what is one of the best collections of vintage aircraft in the western U.S. There are two fascinating venues you’ll want to note make a note of.

vintage beechcraft
Vintage Beechcraft

Chino California

The first location is Chino California. The museum operates as an independently operated non-profit organization. The Chino California location of the Planes of Fame Air Museum is at the corner of Merrill Avenue and Cal Aero Drive, on the north side of Chino Airport. The entrance is off Cal Aero Dr.

Valle Arizona

As more and more vintage aircraft were restored and the Planes of Fame collection grew, an additional display location was opened in 1995 in Valle, Arizona. 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. In Arizona the Planes of Fame Air Museum is located at 755 Mustang Way, Valle Williams, AZ, on the southeast corner of Valle Airport. This is between the town of Williams Arizona and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. This location is easily reached for those traveling through northern Arizona on Interstate-40

ford trimotor aircraft
Ford Trimotor Aircraft

A Great Display of Vintage Aircraft

Many of the vintage aircraft are kept flyable by the many people who donate both funds and aircraft parts to the two museums. People have also donated their time to help maintain the aircraft. Aircraft restoration is a big part of what this organization does.

Per the museum’s web site “Our mission is to preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honor aviation pioneers and veterans“. The organization claims to have the oldest air museums west of the Rocky Mountains. These fascinating museums feature a total of over 175 aircraft.  These museums offer the visitor absolutely stunning collection of vintage and famous airplanes.

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. The museum expanded at it became apparent that a second location should be added. The Arizona location is located at the reopened Valle-Grand Canyon Airport which at one time served as a TWA facility.

From time to time some of the Planes of Fame collection may be unavailable because of their participation in air shows, movie productions and often displays at various military airbases. Below is a very partial list of the flyable aircraft on display at each of the two Plans of Fame Museum locations.

uboat patrol aircraft
Aircraft used for Uboat patrol in the Gulf of Mexico during W.W. II

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.

Two additional articles you’ll enjoy are on the links below…

American Military Aircraft

Who Was the First American Aviator?

Take a Plane Ride on an Historic C-47

Static Displays and Restorations

In addition to the above, there are many aircraft models on static display and some in various stages of restoration.

The Chino California location places an emphasis on Naval aircraft where a part of one building features the aircraft of the U.S.S. Enterprise, a naval air museum within the museum.

At the Arizona location one of the most interesting aircraft on display is the 1929 Ford 5-AT Trimotor. This aircraft was built by the Ford Motor Company as a passenger aircraft. The plane was sold all over the world for both civilian and military use.

grumman hellcat airplane
Grumman Hellcat

The Trimotor was very popular in it’s time for providing both luxury and speed. During it’s years of production, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were produced. The last Trimotor was built in 1933. The author had the opportunity to ride in a Ford Trimotor from Port Clinton Ohio to South Bass Island a short distance island off the Ohio coast in Lake Erie. It was a great historic type adventure and I would recommend it to anyone. If your travels include a northern Ohio vacation or weekend trip you may want to check with Island Airlines at the Port Clinton Ohio Airport for schedules and more information.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)