Aviation buffs who are particularly historically curious about important military aircraft should make a bee-line to the Palm Springs Air Museum. Sure, the desert oasis 100 miles east of Los Angeles is better known for other things. There’s the ideal climate, loads of resort hotels and small restored mid-century inns, vibrant restaurant scene, renowned golf courses and decades-long celebrity connection. But a spark ignites as you drive down Gene Autry Trail and pull a spit-take at the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters parked on a grassy lawn adjacent to the Palm Springs airport know something else is up (not to mention up, up and away).
While mostly a male thing (hardly a female in the joint) your LA Travel Diva Examiner really did find it interesting especially when an adorable and very enthusiastic elderly docent grabbed my ear to chat about his favorite planes.
The museum, housed in a modern structure just north of the airport, is one of the best of its kind anywhere. Besides the handful parked out front on the lawn—and available for a free walk-around—inside and on the tarmac behind are more than two dozen warplanes. Most are famed participants in World War II, with a sprinkling of Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. The interior exhibits are housed in separate areas mostly dedicated to WWII’s European and Pacific Theaters. Here you’ll find such famed aircraft as the FG1D Corsair, P51D Mustang, Mitchell B-25J and Supermarine Spitfire MKXIV. Out back on recent day were a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress and, side by side, the McDonnell F4 Phantom next to its main Vietnam adversary, the MiG 21.
There is plenty of explanatory information accompanying the displays and a theater that continuously screens relevant video. For $15, it’s an airplane aficionado’s dream. 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA. 760-778-6262; www.palmspringsairmuseum.org.