If you like airplanes, you will love the collection at the Pima Air Museum. Even if you don’t count yourself an enthusiast, you will still enjoy viewing and touring through some of these historic aircraft.
For instance, among the 300 flying machines is a full-scale model of the Wright Flyer. Other rare birds include a DC-6 which served as Air Force One for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. There is the helicopter used to ferry President Eisenhower, a fully restored B-29 Superfortress, USAF fighters and their cold-war nemesis, the Soviet MiG.
Inside an original WWII barracks, the museum features a collection of scale models of almost every U.S. Military aircraft from before the First World War until the present day. There are replicas of the Mars Lander on display as well. The University of Arizona was heavily involved in the Phoenix Mission, which was intended to put a robot explorer on Mars for three months. The original is still on Mars, after performing extraordinarily, well beyond all expectations.
Altogether, there are five hangars full of hardware covering 80 acres and 100 years of aviation history. There are a number of volunteers who are willing and able to describe the features and strengths of nearly every item. Many of them served in one of the branches of the U.S. Military and are able to season their presentations with real-life experiences.
Allow yourself about two hours to take it all in. You can opt for a guided tour, a self-guided tour or a one-hour tram ride which weaves up and down the rows of relics providing information and insight on the individual displays.
Next to the museum is Aircraft Maintenance & Regeneration Group (AMARG). For a few dollars more and about another hour of your time, you can take a bus to visit the area where old military aircraft go to die. Here, planes of many descriptions are used for parts or are prepared for the recycler.
The museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with admissions ending at 4:00. Check www.pimaair.org for current admission prices and other information.
Pima Air & Space Museum is located east of Tucson, at 6000 E. Valencia Road, Tucson
85756. For more information call: (520) 574-0462.
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