** UPDATE **

I am in Tucson Arizona as I write, visiting the PIMA Air and Space Museum. I will be here for a few more days, photographing aircraft and learning more about the vast collection from the knowledgeable and friendly ‘docents’ who freely give their time, which for me has made the visit far more interesting and relevant.

Note that the Space Hangar is currently closed. Below is the article that I wrote before this visit. No doubt I will update it when I get the chance.


The Pima Air and Space Museum is massive. They have over 350 aircraft spread out over 80 acres, with six indoor exhibit hangars – three of them dedicated to World War Two. More than 170,000 visitors pass through the gates of the Museum each year.

Pima is located right on the southern perimeter of the Davis-Monthan US Air Force Base, and only a few kilometres away from the Air Force Boneyard, which is located on the northern side of the base.

Pima Air and Space Museum

This is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world. The Museum is also the exclusive operator of tours of the nearby Aircraft Boneyard, although you will need to book 10 days ahead for these tours.

Origins

Back in 1966 there were celebrations for 25th anniversary of the founding of the United States Air Force (it was previously the United States Army Air Force). Around this time the Davis-Monthan base commander and the Boneyard officers realised that far too many historic aircraft were being lost – sold for scrap and sent to the smelters.

They began to set aside examples of many different kinds of aircraft and parked them next to the fence where the public could see them. In the same year a foundation was formed that could work towards establishing a location for a permanent museum.

For the grand price of $800 the foundation purchased 320 acres of land to the south of the base. Finally in 1973 the new facility was ready to receive aircraft and the first 35 were transferred from the Boneyard.

By 1975 there were 50 aircraft in the collection and in May 1976 the gates finally opened to the public. Since then up to 300 aircraft have been added to the collection and there are now six hangars together with other buildings and facilities, including over 100,000 square feet of indoor display space and 125,000 artefacts.

Theme

The theme of the Museum is to display a very broad and diverse collection representing the history of flight. The collection has a strong military emphasis, and the reasons for that lies in the history of the nearby Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) a.k.a. ‘The Boneyard’.

Mission

The Mission of the Museum reads as follows:

“Creating unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.”

Exhibits

There is a Main Hangar, Space Gallery, 390th Memorial Museum, three World War Two hangars, outdoor planes and outdoor exhibits. In each of the hangars there are specific exhibits.

For example, in the Main Hangar there are the following exhibits:

  • Sea planes and amphibians
  • Aerial reconnaissance
  • Submarine hunting
  • Arizona Aviation
  • Aircraft Carriers
  • Vietnam Air War
  • Great Paper Airplane Project and
  • Women in Flight

Education

One link in the website mentions ‘Educator Resources’ and this page offers a downloadable Student/Teacher Activity Guide, a downloadable animal scavenger hunt, and the ‘Great Paper Airplane Project lesson plan’.

It is fair to say that the education aspect is as microscopic as the Pima aircraft collection is astronomic. This is a Museum designed for people that love seeing planes. Lots of planes. And that suits me just fine. Students will need to take notes.

Pima Air and Space Museum - Wikimedia Commons
Pima Air and Space Museum – Wikimedia Commons

Website

The homepage of the website has a massive slider that gives a great idea of the range of aircraft, exhibits and facilities on hand. It has live streaming video, a list of events, a YouTube video, contact details and opening hours. Well done.

The online store has an extensive range of appropriate products, but it is a separate website and you may wonder how to get back to the main Museum website, as there seems to be no link to do so.

The Pima Museum website is quite good and offers a detailed list of the aircraft on display, including photos. All told it is a simple, highly visual and practical online presence.

Location

The Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Road, Tucson, AZ 85756

Admission Fees

Adult (13 and up): $16.50 ($22.00 2-day pass)
Pima Resident: $13.25 ($18.25 2-day pass)
Senior (65+)/ Active Military: $13.75 ($18.75 2-day pass)
Junior (5 to 12): $10.00 ($12.50 2-day pass)
Child (4 and under): Free
Group of 20 or more: $13.50 per person

Opening Hours

Open 7 days a week. Closed Christmas and Thanksgiving Days.

9.00am to 5.00pm (last admission at 3pm)

Collection

The collection at Pima is one of the largest in the world. Aircraft include:

  • Aero Spacelines 377-SG Super Guppy
  • Aeronca L-3B Grasshopper
  • Aerosport Quail
  • Albatros Replica D VA
  • Avian Falcon II Skydancer
  • Avro AEW.2 Shackleton
  • Bede BD-5J Micro-jet
  • Bede BD-4
  • Beechcraft U-8D Seminole
  • Beechcraft 2000A Starship
  • Beechcraft S18D
  • Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan
  • Beechcraft UC-45J Expeditor
  • Beechcraft UC-45J Expeditor
  • Beechcraft AT-7 Navigator
  • Beechcraft N-35 Beechcraft N-35 Bonanza
  • Bell UH-1H Iroquois
  • Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
  • Bell OH-58A Kiowa
  • Bell P-63E Kingcobra
  • Bell HTL-2 Sioux
  • Bell P-39N Airacobra
  • Bell UH-1F Iroquois
  • Bell TH-13N Sioux
  • Bell AH-1S Cobra
  • Bell UH-1M Iroquois
  • Bellanca 14-13-2 Crusair
  • Boeing B-52G Stratofortress
  • Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter
  • Boeing NB-52A Stratofortress
  • Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
  • Boeing C-97G Stratofreighter
  • Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker
  • Boeing 727-22
  • Boeing VC-137B
  • Boeing YC-14
  • Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
  • Boeing 737-300
  • Boeing EC-135J Stratotanker
  • Boeing KB-50J Superfortress
  • Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
  • Boeing EB-47E Stratojet
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress
  • Boeing PT-17 Kaydet
  • Bowers Fly Baby
  • Brewster Bermuda
  • Bristol MK. IV Bolingbroke
  • Budd RB-1 Conestoga
  • Bushby MM II Midget-mustang
  • Canadair MK. V Sabre
  • Cassutt Pylon Racer
  • Cessna UC-78B Bobcat
  • Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe
  • Cessna T-37B Tweet
  • Cessna 120
  • Cessna 310A
  • Cessna O-2A Skymaster
  • Cessna 150L
  • Columbia XJL-1
  • Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer
  • Consolidated B-24J Liberator
  • Consolidated PBY-5A Canso
  • Convair T-29B Flying Classroom
  • Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger
  • Convair F-106A Delta Dart
  • Convair B-36J Peacemaker
  • Convair F-102A Delta Dagger
  • Convair C-131F Samaritan
  • Convair B-58A Hustler
  • Culver PQ-14B Cadet
  • Curtiss C-46D Commando
  • Curtiss O-52 Owl
  • Curtiss/Wright AT-9A Jeep
  • Dassault-breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet
  • De Havilland T.35 Vampire
  • Douglas A-26C Invader
  • Douglas C-124C Globemaster II
  • Douglas DSV-2C Thor-agena B
  • Douglas WB-66D Destroyer
  • Douglas DC-10-10
  • Douglas C-133B Cargomaster
  • Douglas B-18B Bolo
  • Douglas VC-118A Liftmaster
  • Douglas B-23 Dragon
  • Douglas DC-7B Douglas DC-7B
  • Douglas A-24B Banshee
  • Douglas AIR-2A Genie
  • Douglas F-6A Skyray
  • Douglas C-47 Skytrain
  • Douglas C-9B Skytrain II
  • Douglas EA-1F Skyraider
  • Douglas C-54D Skymaster
  • Douglas B-26K Invader
  • Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk
  • Douglas A-4C Skyhawk
  • Douglas YEA-3A Skywarrior
  • Douglas A-20G Havoc
  • Douglas C-117D Super Gooneybird
  • Douglas TF-10B Skyknight
  • English Electric F.53 Lightning
  • Erco 415C Ercoupe
  • Evans VP-1 Volksplane
  • Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar
  • Fairchild C-123K Provider
  • Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar
  • Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II
  • Fairchild C-123B Provider
  • Fairchild C-82A Packet
  • Fairchild PT-26 Cornell
  • Fairchild PT-19A Cornell
  • Fairey AEW MK. 3 Gannet
  • Fieseler FI103-A1 Hoellenhund V-1
  • Flaglor Sky Scooter
  • Fleet Model 2
  • Focke Wulf FW 44J Stieglitz
  • Folland T185 Gnat
  • Fouga CM.170 Fouga Magister
  • General Dynamics F-111E Aardvark
  • General Dynamics BGM-109G GLCM
  • General Motors FM-2 Wildcat
  • General Motors TBM-3E Avenger
  • Globe KD6G-2
  • Gluhareff EMG-300
  • Government Aircraft Factories N22S Nomad
  • Grumman J4F-2 Widgeon
  • Grumman A-6E Intruder
  • Grumman AF-2S Guardian
  • Grumman G-159 Gulfstream I
  • Grumman OV-1C Mohawk
  • Grumman F9F-4 Panther
  • Grumman TAF-9J Cougar
  • Grumman G-1159 Gulfstream II
  • Grumman F-11A Tiger
  • Grumman RF-9J Cougar
  • Grumman S2F-1 Tracker
  • Grumman HU-16A Albatross
  • Grumman F-14A Tomcat
  • Grumman E-1B Tracer
  • Grumman TF-9J Cougar
  • Grumman F7F-3 Tigercat
  • Gyrodyne QH-50C Dash
  • Hawker F-58 Hunter
  • Hawker MK.II Hurricane
  • Hawker Siddeley GR.3 Harrier
  • Hawker Siddeley FGA.1/XV-6A Kestrel
  • Hawker Siddeley AV-8C Harrier
  • Hawker-Siddeley TAV-8A Harrier
  • Helton 95 Lark
  • Hiller UH12C
  • Hughes TH-55A Osage
  • Hughes OH-6A Cayuse
  • Hunting T.3A Jet Provost
  • Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik
  • Kaman OH-43D Huskie
  • Kaman SH-2F Seasprite
  • Kaman HH-43F Huskie
  • Learjet MODEL 23 Learjet Model 23
  • Lockheed R5O-5 Lodestar
  • Lockheed VC-140B Jetstar
  • Lockheed P2V Neptune
  • Lockheed C-130D Hercules
  • Lockheed AP-2H Neptune
  • Lockheed C-130A Hercules
  • Lockheed D-21B Lockheed D-21B
  • Lockheed S-3B Viking
  • Lockheed TV-2 Shooting Star
  • Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
  • Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star
  • Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star
  • Lockheed F-104D Starfighter
  • Lockheed F-94C Starfire
  • Lockheed C-121A Constellation
  • Lockheed VP-3A Orion
  • Lockheed C-141B Starlifter
  • Lockheed T-1A Seastar
  • Lockheed P-80B Shooting Star
  • Lockheed YO-3A Quiet Star
  • Lockheed L-049 Constellation
  • Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star
  • Lockheed Model 10 Electra
  • Lockheed/Vega PV-2 Harpoon
  • Martin PBM-5A Mariner
  • Martin B-26 Marauder
  • Martin B-57E Canberra
  • Martin 404 Skyliner
  • Martin WB-57F Canberra
  • Martin-Marietta LGM-25C Titan II
  • McCulloch SUPER J-2 Gyrocopter
  • McCulloch HUM-1 McCulloch Hum-1
  • McDonnell ADM-20C McDonnell ADM-20C Quail
  • McDonnell FH-1 Phantom
  • McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo
  • McDonnell F-101B Voodoo
  • McDonnell F-3B Demon
  • McDonnell F2H-2P Banshee
  • McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle
  • McDonnell Douglas YF-4J Phantom II
  • McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II
  • McDonnell Douglas F-4N Phantom II
  • McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet
  • McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-17PF Fresco D
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-17F Fresco C
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-29 Fulcrum-A
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-23MLD Flogger-K
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-21PF Fishbed D
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-21PF Fishbed D
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-15BIS Fagot
  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-15UTI Fagot
  • Mil Mi-24D Mi-24D Hind
  • Mitchell/Warr B-10 Mitchell Wing
  • Morane-Saulnier MS-500 Criquet
  • Nakajima KI-43-IIB Hayabusa (Oscar)
  • Naval Aircraft Factory N3N Yellow Peril
  • North American BT-14A Yale
  • North American AGM-28A Hound Dog
  • North American AGM-28A Hound Dog
  • North American B-25J Mitchell
  • North American F-100C Super Sabre
  • North American AT-6B Texan
  • North American RA-5C Vigilante
  • North American F-86E Sabre
  • North American T-2C Buckeye
  • North American F-86L Sabre
  • North American F-107A North American F-107a
  • North American P-51D Mustang
  • North American AF-1E Fury
  • North American X-15A-2 Mockup
  • North American T-28C Trojan
  • North American F-86H Sabre
  • North American CT-39A Sabreliner
  • North American Rockwell OV-10D Bronco
  • Northrop MQM-57 Falconer
  • Northrop YC-125A Raider
  • Northrop T-38A Talon
  • Northrop F-89J Scorpion
  • Northrop F-5B Freedom Fighter
  • Pacific Airwave MODEL 89 Kiss
  • Panavia IDS Tornado
  • Pentecost Hoppicopter
  • Pereira/Hummel MODEL 2 Osprey 2
  • Piasecki HUP-3 Army Mule
  • Piasecki/Vertol CH-21C Workhorse
  • Piper U-11A Aztec
  • Piper J-4A Cub Coupe
  • Pitts S-1C Special
  • Radioplane OQ-3 Radioplane Oq-3
  • Radioplane OQ-19 Radioplane Oq-19
  • Republic F-84C Thunderjet
  • Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
  • Republic P-47D Thunderbolt
  • Republic RF-84F Thunderflash
  • Republic F-105G Thunderchief
  • Republic F-105D Thunderchief
  • Ruhrstahl SD 1400 Fritz-x
  • Rutan Quickie
  • Rutan Long EZ
  • Ryan PT-22 Recruit
  • Ryan-Temco D-16 Twin Navion
  • Scheibe III-B Zugvogel
  • Schemmp-Hirth SHK-1 Schemmp-Hirth SHK-1
  • Schweizer TG-3A Schweizer TG-3A
  • Sepecat GR.3A Jaguar
  • Shenyang J-6A Farmer
  • Sikorsky VH-34C Choctaw
  • Sikorsky UH-19B Chickasaw
  • Sikorsky H-5G Dragonfly
  • Sikorsky CH-37B Mojave
  • Sikorsky S-43 Baby Clipper
  • Sikorsky CH-54A Tarhe
  • Sikorsky HO3S-1 Dragonfly
  • Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican
  • Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard
  • Sikorsky MH-53M Pave Low IV
  • Snow S-2A Snow S-2a
  • Starr Bumble Bee
  • Stinson L-5B Sentinel
  • Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle
  • Supermarine FR. XIVe Spitfire
  • Taylorcraft BC-12D Taylorcraft Bc-12d
  • Taylorcraft TG-6 Taylorcraft Tg-6
  • Taylorcraft L-2M Grasshopper
  • Teledyne Ryan AQM-34L Firebee
  • Vickers 744 Viscount
  • Vought F4U-4 Corsair
  • Vought A-7E Corsair Ii
  • Vought A-7D Corsair Ii
  • Vought/Ltv DF-8F Crusader
  • Vultee BT-13A Valiant
  • Waco RNF Waco Rnf
  • Waco UPF-7 Waco Upf-7
  • Waco ZKS-6 Waco Zks-6
  • Westland AH.1 Gazelle
  • Westland AH.7 Lynx

Videos

Books

Here are a few books I think you might like. If you enjoy these articles please consider buying via these links. My commission is small, but it costs you the same. Thanks!

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More Museums

You can learn more about the Pima Museum here, or visit our Aviation Museums section for more articles like this.

* This article is based on information in the public domain as at February 20, 2018.

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