When it comes to aviation, my experience is almost exclusively on the commercial side, especially as a steward (yes, I started in the airline industry before we were rebranded “flight attendants”!) for Pan American World Airways. And with all the things there are to do in the Coachella Valley, it’s taken me years to finally visit the Palm Springs Air Museum. But recently I did, and what an eye-opener!
Located on Gene Autry Trail adjacent to the back side of the Palm Springs International Airport, the museum has been open since Veteran’s Day 1996 on a ten-acre lot that includes three large aircraft hangars. The collection consists mostly of World War II aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia. At any one time there are about 30 planes on display (including a Russian MiG 21 as I write this), and many are maintained in flyable condition. Year-round, and especially on weekends, there are special flying exhibitions that bring out the crowds. In addition to the aircraft, you’ll find fascinating photo and video displays, scale models, huge informative maps that help explain the European and Pacific theater war strategies, and an extensive research
On the day I visited with out-of-town guests, we toured the facilities, had a wonderful lunch, watched the commercial plane traffic from an up-close and personal vantage point, and even observed a photo shoot that featured one of the vintage aircraft as a model. Although I’d say this was a “family-friendly” venue, I’d caution bringing very small kidlets as there may be a “seen one plane you’ve seen them all” mentality. You might want to reserve this for ex-military, kindly friends of a certain age, and those with a passion for history and the world wars. I absolutely loved it.