© 2013 Palm Springs Air Museum 745 North Gene Autry Trail Palm Springs, California 92262 Ph: 760-778-6262 Fax: 760-482-1880
The significance of World War Two is unparalleled in all of the history of the world in that it was the greatest, most costly conflict ever fought, taking the lives of more than 70 million people. It was Air Power that altered the outcome of that war and forever changed the lives of every person alive today. The Museum contains one of the world's largest collections of flying World War II military aircraft, many courtesy of Mr. Robert Pond. There are also aircraft on loan from the US Navy, and private owners. An average of 29 aircraft are on display on a daily basis. Aircraft are flown often in conjunction with education programs and seminars. Operational aircraft also periodically visit and are open to the public. A schedule of events is published that list up-coming programs and seminars, flight demonstrations, and temporary exhibitions. Fine quality aviation art is located throughout the institution, from small watercolors to massive murals by renowned artist Stan Stokes. Original combat photography is used to take the viewers back in time, vividly showing the collection in operational use during World War II. For example, the exhibition "Fast Carrier Task Force", located in the Pacific Theater of Operations Hangar, uses photographs taken by combat cameramen. They show aircraft operating from the fast carriers, in flight in large formations, and details of the fast carriers' tactics, operations, support ships, and personnel. The Museum possesses a fine collection of relevant aircraft and ship models that are also used to help to interpret the main theme, that of explaining the significance of air power upon the outcome of World War II. Acquisitions and donations of artifacts, memorabilia, and libraries have been overwhelming, adding to the Museum's offerings and enhancing its reputation as both a resource and a history classroom. The Palm Springs Air Museum contains approximately 70,000 sq. ft. of interior display space, environmentally controlled within three large display hangars. The institution is on a ten acre site that includes visitor parking, ramp access to the Palm Springs International Airport for visiting display aircraft, exterior displays, and an aircraft ramp for special shows and flight demonstration viewing. See Directors & Officers How did it all happen? It was late 1993 when the original concept and inspiration for the Palm Springs Air Museum sprang from the collective imaginations and thinking of four men; namely Charlie Mayer, Bill Byrne, Pete Madison and Dr. Mort Gubin. Many others contributed in many ways and these four men would agree wholeheartedly that nothing could have happened without the many early volunteers. It seems Charlie and Bill were having a conversation one day when a P-51 flew low overhead and caught their attention. They looked at each other in amazement and suddenly "the lights went on." "Why not an air museum featuring WWII Warbirds right here in Palm Springs?" Their friend, Pete Madison, a former P-38 pilot, was told of the idea and agreed to contact his friend Bob Pond, who he knew had a deep interest in aviation, having been trained as a Naval Aviator. He also knew Mr. Pond had been actively collecting and rebuilding Warbirds and classic cars for a number of years and was recognized as a person who could get things done. Pond was subsequently invited to hear a presentation at an Airport Commission meeting and afterward he declared he was interested in becoming involved. Thanks to his support and his contacts in the field of aviation, a basis was established from which they could move forward. When the idea of an Air Museum was brought to the Palm Springs City Council, they liked the concept and threw their full weight behind it. It took off immediately. It helped that Charlie Mayer and Pete Madison were members of the Airport Commission. and Bill Byrne served on the Board of the Desert Water Agency. Between them they knew many key people who would be of valuable assistance along the way. The fledgling organization needed to be incorporated and the law firm of Best, Best & Krieger, and Lou Silva, CPA, offered their services pro bono to clear this hurdle. Incorporation: The Organizational Certificate of Incorporation of Palm Springs Air Museum, Inc. was dated January 5, 1994 and signed by Harold N. "Pete" Madison, Charles H. Mayer and Bill Byrne. It shows the nine original Board of Directors to be: Harold N. "Pete" Madison, Charles H. Mayer, Bill Byrne, Morton Gubin, M.D., John Lake, D.D.S., Philip Hixon, Rozene Supple, John Duncan, and Harold Williamson. In order to conduct business, office space was required. Messrs. Zack Pitts and Stan Rosine gifted the use of space at 109 S. Indian Avenue. Things were definitely beginning to take shape. During 1994 much work was done contacting other museums, working with architects, raising money, conducting feasibility studies, etc. A great deal of this critical preliminary work was done by Bill Byrne who was Secretary and Harold Williamson who was still working as a volunteer, until he became President in December. Land Acquisition: In September, 1994 a ten-acre parcel of land was acquired on the Palm Springs Airport property under a forty-year lease arrangement with options. Government agencies such as the FAA and DOT had to be contacted and one by one the barriers were removed. During 1995, architectural plans were drawn for a 50,000 sq. ft. facility that would provide hangar space as well as offices and entertainment areas. In the meantime, fund raising became of paramount importance. After retaining the services of professional fund raisers with little or no results, it was decided to do it in-house. Presentations were made at several of the more prominent country clubs to inform the membership of activity towards development of the Air Museum. This was followed up with personal contact by Museum Board members to request financial support. Not one penny of public tax dollars was spent to promote and develop this project. Construction: On February 15, 1996 Lusardi Construction pulled the permit for construction of the museum on a design/build contract. Completion date was set for May 28th. On July 4th, 3500 local citizens attended a Pancake Breakfast and Membership Drive at the facility which featured almost-empty hangars with stark white interiors. The time between occupancy in June 1996, and the opening on November 11th was spent receiving airplanes and preparing the interior. Joe Wertheimer did the large wall maps and sillouette displays, with volunteer assistance. The maintenance and ready rooms were constructed by Jean Pierre and the volunteers. Fritz Frauchiger worked on the initial displays and signage. Stan Stokes spent the better part of the summer painting the Battle of Midway mural that graces the lobby. The Museum officially opened on Veterans Day, November 11, 1996 with approximately 5,000 visitors in attendance.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is a non-profit educational institution whose mission is to exhibit, educate and honor World War II combat aircraft and the role the pilots and American citizens had in achieving this great victory. In addition to flying aircraft, related artifacts, artwork, and library sources are used to perpetuate American history.
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