The final museum of my recent US trip was handily placed on the airport boundary that my flight home would be departing from in a few hours time. I spent four hours wandering around the museum soaking in the atmosphere that is something like no other. This was my third visit to the museum and it gets no less spectacular visit on visit. This was my first trip with a proper camera so I may have gone a little overboard!
With so many types to see, almost everyone being unique or special in some way, I did not feel that a single post would do this collection justice. This post focuses on the WW1 and Inter-War types on display. Entering the museum and immediately turning left you are greeted by a wonderful array of WW1 types. A Nieuport 28 takes pride of place hung in front of the balcony, being the type most associated with the US forces in WW1. There is also a Caudron GIV and a two seat Spad amongst other types.
The absolute highlight of the WW1 collection was the Sopwith Camel, recently donated by Javier Arango’s estate. Mr Arango was well known for having an incredible collection of original and replica pioneer and WW1 aircraft of which this original Camel was the focal point, with Javier Arango himself presenting on the handling qualities of the machine on many occasions. Tragically he was killed in 2018 while flying his Nieuport 28 replica. While it is great to see both his Camel and Bleriot on display in the museum, it is such a shame that is is under such circumstances.
Buried in amongst larger aeroplanes such as Concorde and a Boeing 707 is an incredibly original Curtiss Jenny, the WW1 trainer that was one of the few US designs built in significant numbers during the Great War.
A couple of wonderful interwar types from the Curtiss stable are on show, with a Gulfhawk and Sparrowhawk on display. The latter is a particular favourite of mine. There is also a Boeing F4B and Grumman F3F within the museum, rounding off a great collection of interwar biplanes and brining the US Biplane fighter story up to its conclusion.
One aeroplane that really captured my attention was the Boeing P-26 Peashooter. Aside from the airworthy example based at Chino, this is the only remaining example and is finished in a wonderful Olive Drab scheme. It is hung up just by a series of Ramps and stairwells offering multiple viewing angles and great access for a suspended machine.
The next post on this museum will look at the incredible collection of WW2 Luftwaffe types, which would be worth the visit on its own.