The largest privately-funded air museum
in the United States, located in Tucson, Arizona
. It opened in May of 1976 with 75 aircraft and it now has over 250 aircraft on 80 acres. Most of the aircraft are displayed in rows outdoors, but many of the more fragile and historic pieces are housed in large hangar
s along with displays of models, memorabilia and educational information. The majority of the aircraft are military planes and the museum is heavy on the World War II
era. Many of the volunteers are ex-military pilots and mechanics and they can answer questions and tell personal stories about the planes.
Some of the highlights of the Museum include: the 390th Memorial Museum Building, which houses a
restored B-17 bomber and memorabilia from the 390th Bomb Group and the 390th Strategic Missile Wing; an
extensive aviation research library; the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame; the World War II Memorial Hangers with a restored B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress and other aircraft; one of the SR-71 Blackbirds; the Challenger Learning Center of the Southwest. There is also a snack bar and a gift shop inside Hanger #1.
Some of my favorite aircraft on display are the B-52, A-4, Harrier AV-8, F-15, Sikorsky CH-54A Tarhe (A.K.A. Skycrane) and Bell UH-1 Iroquois (A.K.A. Huey). Guided tours of the Douglas VC-118 plane used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson (Air Force One) are available throughout the day too.
The Museum also has collections of helicopters, experimental aircraft, ultralights, drones and
missiles. The entrance fee is less than $10 and a person can explore at his or her own pace. There is a
motorized, guided tram tour that is especially nice for seniors and other people who have trouble walking,
but I recommend the walking tour for everyone else. Because Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert, be sure to wear sun protection and drink plenty of water at the water stations scattered around the grounds.
When you go to the Pima Air and Space Museum, think about taking the AMARC tour or visiting the Titan Missile Museum since you can get package tickets at a discount. For the AMARC "boneyard" tour, you will ride a bus onto Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (across the street from the Air and Space Museum) where you can see military aircraft and parts in storage. The Titan Missile Museum is about 25 miles south of Tucson. Visitors are guided through the underground control rooms and can see the last of the Titan II missiles still standing in the silo.
Learn more at the Museum's website, which has photos of most of the aircraft: