Take Flight at the Air Museum
If you’re interested in airplanes, men in uniform, aviation technology, or military history, we highly recommend spending a few hours at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Here you can get up close (and sometimes on board) over 70 planes and flying machines from World War Two, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts, and even an F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter from the Global War on Terror. This is a living history museum where many of the planes are kept in flyable condition. Veterans are on hand to share experiences, there’s a library where you can research your family military history, or try your hand at an F-16 flight simulator. If you’re up for a splurge, take to the skies with a ride in a vintage warbird. Start early and you can be back to Santiago by lunchtime!
Located on ten acres near the Palm Springs airport, much of the museum’s collection is housed across five climate-controlled hangars that are organized by theme. The Pacific Hangar includes exhibits and aircraft used by the Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II, including six classic Grumman “cats.” The European Hangar features exhibits, and aircraft used by the Army in the European Theater during World War II. Highlights of this hangar include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, P-47 Thunderbolt, the Avenger, a restored-to-flight P-51 Mustang, a P-63 King Cobra, a Spitfire, and a C-47 (when she is not flying). The Korea and Vietnam Hangar includes a mural honoring the Tuskegee Airmen and another impressive collection of planes including an F-102 Delta Dagger, Northrup Grumman EA-6B Prowler, and F-84F Thunderstreak. The smallest hangar contains a B-17 Flying Fortress and café, and the newest hangar showcases a stunning F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter and fascinating displays on stealth technology.
Don’t miss touring inside the flyable B-17 and C-47 when the C-47 is not in flight. On Saturday afternoons November through April, there are educational programs and flight exhibitions. Open Cockpit experiences occur each Saturday (included with museum admission). Most of the talks and programs highlight the historical significance of air power and often include eyewitness accounts, which is what makes this museum really special.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can arrange to take to the skies in a vintage warbird or C-47 transport plane. For the summer of 2023, the PT-17 Stearman and P-51 Mustang are available for solo rides with a pilot ($295 and $1895 per person). November through May, rides are also available on the T-6 Texan, T-28 Trojan, T-33 Shooting Star jet, and a C-47 Skytrain used to drop paratroopers on D-Day ($125 per person, 5-10 passengers). Visit the online booking site for the most up-to-date information and pricing.
The Museum is also home to many signature annual events including the Props & Hops Craft Beer Festival in November, a black-tie Gala honoring men and women of aviation and space in February, and a Memorial Day Flower Drop & Air Fair on Memorial Day when vintage warbirds make the Missing Man formation and drop 3,000 red and white carnations over the tarmac in honor of those who sacrificed to preserve American liberties and way of life. After hours, the museum’s tarmac occasionally transforms into one of the desert’s most spectacular dance venues, hosting LGBTQ-friendly events like Splash House After Hours and the Red Dress/Dress Red Party in March.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is open daily 10 AM – 5 pm, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Gala Day. The current admission rate is $22 for adults, active military with ID & immediate family are free. Visit PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org or call (760) 778-6262 for more info.