Pima Air & Space Museum
For aviation enthusiasts, the Pima Air & Space Museum is a must-see, with over 300 aircraft displayed on over 80 acres. Some reside in hangars; many more live outside in the scorching Tucson sun … row after row of bombers, fighters, trainers, transports & tankers.
What did we see?
- Cats…lots of cats: Tomcats, Bobcats, Cougars, and Wildcats.
- Winged creatures: An Osprey, a Blackbird (SR71), an Owl… even a Quail, a Bumblebee and a Grasshopper!
- Intimidating aliases: Invader, Liberator, Commando (hmm), Superfortress, Avenger (best name).
- Experimental aircraft, foreign aircraft and Presidential aircraft.
- Eye Flight: a retired hospital plane designed to teach eye surgery in developing countries.
- The “Vomit Comet” - astronauts practiced weightlessness in this high flyer.
Adjacent to the museum, The Boneyard consists of multitudes of carefully stored, older and modern planes sitting on 2,600 acres! It is accessible only by a separate tour requiring a 10-day notice (they run a security clearance on you). Brian hovered over it once after obtaining permission from air traffic control. He remembers it as fields upon fields of planes... some intact, but many missing key components. These old birds are, in theory, able to be returned to service in case of national emergency. In practice, the planes are more valuable for parts that are still compatible with current aircraft. Due to our impromptu visit, we were unable to take this extra excursion…maybe next time.
This is the 3rd largest aircraft museum in the US, behind the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. I had no idea. So I originally planned on a 2-3 hour visit. We spent six hours! Mmmm, slight miscalculation. I should have known better. (Brian. Pilot. Duh.) But even he was overwhelmed by the number of aircraft to peruse. We could have spent another 3 hours, but were both so exhausted from standing and walking and reading, we had to quit before we fell over.
If you are flight fanatics like us you will spend all day here; but even a non-enthusiast will enjoy touring the vast variety of viewable aircraft and listening to their expert veteran docents for a couple hours. Enjoy lunch at the Flight Deck too – get the tuna melt!