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Museum of Flying reopens at Santa Monica Airport

Category : Links

header[1]From http://articles.latimes.com/print/2012/feb/26/local/la-me-0226-museum-of-flying-20120226

Museum of Flying reopens at Santa Monica Airport

About two dozen flying machines, along with exhibits on the Southland’s aviation and aerospace industry, are featured in the third iteration of the museum, founded in 1974.

February 26, 2012|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times

After a nearly decade-long hiatus, the Museum of Flying has once again spread its wings at Santa Monica Airport.

Under blue skies, a new 22,000-square-foot facility opened its doors Saturday to hundreds of aviation enthusiasts who stood in line for a chance to check out about two dozen flying machines on display.

Guests ranged from babies in backpacks to retired aviation and aerospace workers such as Richard Schneidmiller, 82, who analyzed failed aircraft parts at the airport for two years after World War II.

Griffin Gamble, 10, of Brentwood was among the first to man the controls of a Boeing 727, donated by FedEx, that juts straight out of the museum’s corrugated metal wall on Airport Avenue.

“It’s really cool, with so many buttons,” said Griffin, who wore a NASA T-shirt from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, where he witnessed the final launch of the Discovery space shuttle a year ago.

The planes on display ran the gamut, from replicas of a Wright Flyer and a Lockheed Vega (the type of plane flown by Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post) to a single-seat microjet featured in the opening scenes of the James Bond movie “Octopussy.”

On its ground floor and mezzanine, the museum features artwork and displays about Douglas Aircraft Co., founded by aviation pioneer Donald W. Douglas, and other Southland companies that helped propel the region’s once-robust aviation and aerospace industry.

Out front stood the DC-3 that for years was Douglas’ personal plane. It was the last one built, said museum Chairman David Price, and its passengers included President Eisenhower, actor William Holden and crooner Bing Crosby.

Santa Monica Airport was established in 1917. After the city of Santa Monica acquired the property in 1926, it became the home of Douglas Aircraft, which at its peak had 44,000 employees. The site was the birthplace of the Douglas World Cruiser, the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe.

In the early 1930s, the airport saw the first flights of the famed DC-3 planes that introduced average Americans to commercial air travel. During World War II, the facility played a key role in the production of military aircraft.

“Few people remember how it all started,” said Robert Trimborn, Santa Monica Airport’s director. “This museum will help ground people back to the roots of this incredible industry.”

The museum mezzanine features a 30-seat theater, a replica of the Douglas Aircraft executive boardroom and Donald Douglas’ desk and drafting table.

This is the museum’s third iteration. It originally was founded in 1974 at the airport’s southern end and then reopened on the north side in 1989 with a collection of more than four dozen vintage planes. Facing economic pressures and a decline in visitors, the museum closed in July 2002 and stored or donated its aircraft.

Through donations, the museum has raised about $2.5 million of the $5 million needed to pay for construction and to establish an endowment. Museum officials plan to meet in April with their counterparts at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, which has offered to lend artifacts for display.

The museum also plans soon to launch the California Aviation Hall of Fame, which is expected to have about two dozen inaugural inductees, including Douglas, Howard Hughes, John Knudsen “Jack” Northrop, John Leland “Lee” Atwood and T. Claude Ryan.

“We want to be a place that recognizes those achievements,” said Daniel J. Ryan, the museum’s managing director.

For Schneidmiller’s wife, Dorothy Bellina, 83, of Venice, the opening felt like having an old friend back. She is part of a group of 15 former museum volunteers who have become friends. They call themselves the “grounded eagles.”

The museum, a nonprofit organization, is at 3100 Airport Ave. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. In April, the museum expects to begin taking reservations for school tours. For information, visit the museum website.

martha.groves@latimes.com

Los Angeles Times Articles

Copyright 2014 Los Angeles Times


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Tucson Mayor Welcomes B-36 Bomber to the Pima Air and Space Museum

Category : Links

from AirportJournals.com

by Bob Shane

Standing at the nose of the “City of Ft. Worth,” Dan Ryan, executive director of the Pima Air and Space Museum, addresses the invited guests during the B-36 arrival ceremony.Standing at the nose of the “City of Ft. Worth,” Dan Ryan, executive director of the Pima Air and Space Museum, addresses the invited guests during the B-36 arrival ceremony.

On July 22, at 5 p.m., a tractor-trailer hauling a very special oversized cargo pulled into the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson. On the big rig’s flatbed trailer was the cockpit and nose section of the largest bomber ever built in this country, the Convair B-36 Peacemaker.

By every measure, it’s a titan of an airplane. It has a 230-foot wingspan, a length of 162 feet, 1 inch, and stands 46 feet, 9 inches tall. Loaded, it weighed 410,000 lbs. and the power of its 10 engines (six Pratt and Whitney R4360 pusher prop engines and four General Electric J-47 jet engines) could make the ground shake. The recon model was manned by a sizeable 22-person crew. There was even one variant of the bomber, the B-36D “FICON,” which carried it’s own fighter protection. In this configuration, the intercontinental bomber had a Republic F-84F slung on a trapeze under its belly.

Over the next couple of weeks, it was anticipated that an additional 15 truckloads would be required to move all of the remaining parts needed to reassemble the giant aircraft. A fenced-in compound has been set up at Pima to store the parts and complete the detailed restoration and assembly. The public will be able to view the progress being made during the entire process.

Following the arrival of the nose section on Friday, the next morning at 10 a.m., a formal ceremony was held at the museum. Welcoming the B-36 to Arizona was Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and other distinguished guests. Pima’s acquisition of the giant bomber was made possible through a loan agreement with the Air Force Museum.

Dan Ryan, the Museum’s executive director, opened his comments by stating, “Is this a great day for the Pima Air and Space Museum or what!” He thanked the Texas groups in Fort Worth for their steadfast dedication and many years of work in preserving the B-36. Undoubtedly, when completed, the “City of Ft. Worth” will become the centerpiece of the museum.

Also present to welcome the museum’s newest attraction were several former B-36 crewmembers. Bill Lafferty, who now resides in Green Valley, Ariz., was an aircraft commander on the bomber. He logged 1,800 hours flying the RB-36H. Lafferty likes to boast that the Peacemaker was “the first plane I flew that was overpowered.” He recalls one mission where he and his crew spent six hours trying to get the left landing gear down. When asked by Command if he was going to ride it in or bail out, he figured he had one last thing to try.

“I dived the airplane and pulled up hard and the gear popped out,” he said. In addition to flying the mammoth bomber, during the period 1952 to 1957, Lafferty also flew C-47s and C-54s during the Berlin Airlift.

Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup (red shirt) listens to B-36 crewmembers talk about their experiences flying the nation’s largest bomber.Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup (red shirt) listens to B-36 crewmembers talk about their experiences flying the nation’s largest bomber.

Robert Kleinhans, who also attended the ceremony, accumulated 1,000 hours in the B-36 as the lower left gunner.

“We had an engine fire on number four where the flames extended all the way back to the horizontal stabilizer,” he recalls of one flight.

The fire was extinguished and the aircraft landed safely.

The B-36 made its maiden flight on Aug. 8, 1946, with the first aircraft being delivered to the Strategic Air Command on June 26, 1948. The particular aircraft received by Pima, the “City of Ft. Worth,” was the last B-36J built. With the serial number of 52-2827, it rolled off the Convair assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas in 1954, and was assigned to the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Wash. It ended its active service in February 1959, following a retirement ceremony at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Field, where it was placed on display in front of the airport’s terminal building in Peacemaker Park.

Bill Lafferty, a former Peacemaker pilot, has logged 1,800 hours in the aircraft.The rare bomber endured periods of neglect and vandalism. In 1978, disassembly of the aircraft was started so that it could be moved to Carswell AFB. In 1994, a B-36 restoration team completed a 44,000-man-hour reconstruction of the aircraft. Pima will now perform a detailed restoration during the reassembly of the bomber.

Bill Lafferty, a former Peacemaker pilot, has logged 1,800 hours in the aircraft.

The B-36J is a national treasure and will be a valuable addition to the more than 250 historical aircraft already on display at the museum. Of the more than 380 built, only four have survived the scrapper’s blade. All but these four were parted out in Tucson after their retirement. The Pima Air and Space Museum will now join only three other museums in the country with a complete B-36. They include the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha, Neb., and the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, Calif.


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The Museum is currently operating on it's Fall - Winter hours. We are open Friday - Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM (last entry at 4:30 PM)

Always check our front page for information on Museum closures pertaining to private events. They are generally posted at least two weeks beforehand.

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