Neighborhood Travels

The Planes of Fame Air Museum

Visiting the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California, was something of a lark for me.  I just had a hankering to go check it out.  It may seem like historic airplanes are something of a departure from my usual adventures but honestly I’ve had an interest in them for years.  I think it’s because my husband liked them from the time he was a kid and heard stories from his uncle about flying B-24’s in Europe.  Besides, what about all those 1940s war movies?

To my delight the first hangar I visited was the early fighters.  This Boeing P-26A Peashooter was so colorful I couldn’t miss it.

Army Airs Corps Fighter plane P-26A painted blue with yellow wings
Boeing P-26A, an all-metal fighter for the Army Air Corps!

What was really marvelous was that this and the other planes still fly.  This plane must be over 80-years-old.

In the same hangar I saw this jaunty Boeing P-12.  It also was the type flown in the early 1930s.  But unlike the Peashooter above, this one is still a biplane.   I really like the top hat design.  This particular plane may be an F4B, the Navy’s designation.

1930s Navy fighter plane with top hat insignia
Boeing P-12/FB-4

Of course there were the more well-known fighters like the Curtiss P-40 and the Mustang P-51.  There were at least three Mustangs on display.  I liked the one with the the Spam reference.

Silver Mustang P-51 with picture a Spam container
Mustang P-51D

My husband was in the Marine Corps so of course I lean toward the Navy fighters.  I especially like the Grumman cats.  I didn’t see a Wildcat or even a Hellcat but I did manage to see a Grumman Avenger (torpedo bomber).

Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber with folded wings
Grumman Avenger

I think the first President Bush was an Avenger pilot.

The above photo was in an area set up to replicate the USS Enterprise, a very famous aircraft carrier in World War II.  In fact she was the most decorated ship in the war.  The “Big E” was something.

There were several planes in this area. Among them was a Douglas SBD Dauntless (dive bomber).  Wow, that was cool.  The Dauntless played a big role at the Battle of Midway.

Blue Douglas Dauntless Dive Bomber
Douglas Dauntless Dive Bomber

There was an outdoor display area.  I confess I was a little confused by it.  The planes here were not restored and it had a forlorn look.  Perhaps these aren’t yet ready to be repaired or there just isn’t funding for the project.

The big restoration project at present is the B-17 which sits out front by the parking lot.  Now that was something.  I was able to walk about it and even crawl under it!  I’ve never been so close to a B-17 before.  The restoration project is ongoing, so there were ladders and paraphernalia about, along with signs explaining the need for financial support.

Beside the fuselage of B-17 bomber
Boeing B-17 heavy bomber

I was surprised at how extensive the Planes of Fame collection was and how many of the planes are actually operational.  I wonder now why I waited so long to make this visit.

Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.

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