Visit Some of the Best Air Museums in the West

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, New Mexico or Oregon.

War Eagles Air Museum

air museumsThe War Eagles Air Museum located at the Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa, New Mexico is dedicated to collecting, restoring and displaying historic aircraft of World War II and the Korean Conflict. The museum pays special tribute to military aviation and reminds us all of the significant role these airplanes, their pilots and support crews played in securing our freedom.

Their collection consists of more than 30 civilian and military aircraft. Entering the museum, one first passes through the gift shop, which offers T-shirts, posters, and other historic memorabilia. The shop also houses the museum’s first display case: A collection of bomber gear and bomb tags from World War II. The tags were pulled before each bombing and marked with the date and target destination

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)