While on a recent trip to Arizona I got the chance to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson which if you like planes than this is your nirvana. It was a really fascinating place, the museum is dedicated to the history of flight and houses one of the largest aircraft collections in the world, including World War II combat gliders, experimental aircraft, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” and enough other military and commercial aircraft to fascinate any aviation buff.
The Pima Air and Space Museum is a huge space, 127 acres with aircraft spread out over 80 acres, it is one of the world’s largest, non-government funded aerospace museums and is also home to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. There are over 300 aircraft and spacecraft housed here and I had a terrific time looking at them all.
Besides the field of airplanes outside, there are five separate hangars also full of aircraft and artifacts. The aircrafts vary from military grade all the way to air force one planes that have flown former presidents.
One thing that was really unique about this museum was just the variety of aircraft. Most air and space museums that we have been to have the typical F14, which is neat to see, but this place had an A-10 Warthog, one of the more rare sightings at a museum.
Each exhibit is dedicated to a specific area of aviation. Two of their hangars are dedicated to World War II. Inside these hangers they have many planes including heavy bombers like the ones used during the Doolittle raid on Tokyo and an F4U Corsair. They also had a P-51 Mustang which was awesome to see, it’s one of my favorite planes.
The Pima Air and Space Museum is just really huge but it isn’t all airplanes. They also have a space area, The Dorothy Finley Space Gallery, which features a training version of an Apollo space capsule as well as X-Planes which are experimental planes. There is also a Moon rock on display, which is a pretty unique thing to see especially when you think about how few people have actually been to the moon.
The whole museum was really great but my favorite part was the 390th Memorial Museum because I got the opportunity to see a B17 “Flying Fortress”, something I had never seen before. The Memorial Museum was really well done, it was more than just the plane, they had flight jackets, dioramas, etc. Another highlight was meeting another visitor who actually flew a B17, he was a tail gunner during WWII and I got to hear him recount some of his tales.
Another unique area of the museum is the World War II Barracks. Besides being able to walk through an original World War II barracks, it also included basically a model of every plane that is on the premises and then some.
I would highly recommend visiting The Pima Air and Space Museum if you ever find yourself in Tuscon Arizona. The price might throw you off at first but once you are inside and see just how massive the museum is you will feel like you have gotten your money’s worth. If you are interested in history, military equipment, or aviation then The Pima Air and Space Museum is a must see.
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Pima Air and Space Museum
Located at 6000 East Valencia Road, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Tucson, AZ
Hours of Operation – 9:00am – 5:00pm daily (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Cost as of this Posting- Adults $13.75, Seniors $11.75, Children $8.00, Children 6 and under free.
For more information visit their website at www.pimaair.org
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