Flying High at Pima Air & Space Museum

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pima Air & Space Museum is a must see for us while near Tucson.  We wind up making two visits to see everything on display here.  One day is our indoor, cold, rainy visit and the second is our outdoor, warm, sunny visit. Although Storm and I have seen a lot of airplanes in museums and airshows over the years, I still hope to learn something new here.  I am not disappointed.

Pima Air & Space Museum

In addition to seeing a few foreign registered planes I had never seen before, we also got to watch Heritage Flight training at nearby Davis-Monthan AFB.  I never really thought about how those flights, which usually include warbirds and modern fighters in commemoration of USAF history, come to be.  What a wonderful surprise that our second visit to the museum coincides with the first day of Heritage Flight training occurring in the skies over the museum.  Old planes and an unexpected airshow – life is good!

Heritage Flight Training

Helpful hints for your visit

A perfectly acceptable side window repair according to Storm

Here are some things to plan for or consider if you visit this museum.

  • Get there early – the tram tickets sell out fast.  While you will probably want to walkaround and get a closeup view of the planes you find unusual, the tram lets you get a glimpse of them all before selecting a few for closer inspection.
  • If you want to do the boneyard tour, make your reservations through the Pima Air & Space Museum website at least a month before your visit. (It only takes 10 business days for the security process, but tour groups tend to plan well in advance and snap up tickets well into the future.)
  • Dress for the outside weather even if you plan to only tour the hangars.  I needed 2 coats on our first trip inside the cold soaked hangars. At least I was out of the rain and wind!  During a summer visit, bring plenty of water to drink.
  • If you really, really like to look at old airplanes (and goodness knows we do!) one day may not be enough to take them all in.  If you decide you want to come back, check with the admissions desk in the gift shop.  They can extend your original ticket for another day at only $5 each.  You don’t even have to come back the next day.  The extension is good for another day at your convenience.
Sunny helps demonstrate the "extremely" heavy load lifting capabilities of this Sikorsky CH54-A TARHE. (Please do not try this at home!)

Steve's C-130 Story

This is NOT the plane Steve crewed on in Antartica

Our friend Steve (of Dawson Gang motorcyclists “Sheila and Steve” fame) asks us to look for one of the C-130s that he repaired in Antarctica.  As I have fond memories of his tales as a C-130 repairman in Antarctica, we promised to keep an eye out for a C-130 on sleds.  Although we did not make it to the boneyard to see his plane, we see this similar sledded plane parked outside in the museum display. I email him about that one. Thanks so much to Steve for this informative response and the pictures (all shown below) he sent to me showing C-130s in Antarctica.

The Fate of C-130's in Antarctica

Hi guys, the one in the picture is an early model. The ones I flew in were LC130 R and F models. The only difference that you would notice is a 4 blade prop. 159129 is supposed to be there (in the boneyard) which is an R model.  That one crashed at Dome Charlie Antarctica.  29 was the first plane that was ever repaired and flown out. I was part of that team.

Dome Charlie was to claim three more crashes. All  were repaired and flown out in later years. The one we repaired had the nose gear and ski ripped off and went through the  bottom of the plane. Where it went through was all the black boxes.  Dome Charlie was over 10,000 feet. We all had oxygen tanks close by and used them. The planes that I know have been brought out.  

 159129—Dome Charlie front gear and ski
148319—Dome Charlie —jato bottle came off and went through # 3—-burnt off wing
148320–Dome Charlie
148321 –McMurdo—went over a 30′ berm and burnt during a white out.”

A Few of My Favorites from Pima Air & Space Museum

Fun with Perspective

Sunny close to the camera and far from the Super Guppy
Sunny close to the Super Guppy and far from the camera

About Sunny Weathers

Pilot, motorcyclist and full time RVer. Follow me as I travel all over the US in my Country Coach RV volunteering, making new friends and pursuing a constant outdoor temperature between 70F and 80F. I'll share the fun and the tribulations and any great survival tricks I learn!

4 Replies to “Flying High at Pima Air & Space Museum”

  1. Larry Wikoff says: Reply

    And a bit of trivia: The Super Guppy was used to transport the Saturn Instrument Unit, manufactured by IBM in Huntsville, AL, to Huntington Beach, CA.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Thanks for that info!

  2. Jim & Sandy Dukeman says: Reply

    I have only seen one of the Super Guppy’s, and I can’t remember where, just blows the mind that that thing can actually FLY and carry a good sized load doing it. ;>) Would love to visit the museum sometime. Thanks for sharing. GOD BLESS

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      You would definitely love this museum. If you and Sandy hit the road again, I would definitely recommend this part of Arizona for a stop for you two.

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