Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona

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This was our second visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum and was again very worth the time and price of admittance ($15.50/per adult with discounts for seniors and military). Show up early because it’s effortless to spend a full day on the 80 acres of grounds, inside and out.

Pima Air & Space Museum

The Arizona Aerospace Foundation’s mission statement is first-rate: Creating unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.

Boneyard tours are available for between $6 and $7 depending on what you choose, but there are also a large number of docents on hand to answer questions. In the World War II hanger, we were blessed that Alex chose to ask Jim Otey* if he thought the Corsair A-7 or the Mustang P-51 was a faster plane. We spent well over half an hour learning from him about the Superfortress, the Boeing B-29. We learned that it was the first bomber to be pressurized, which also led to some of the machine guns being operated remotely via computer. This technology was amazing.

Because of the pressurization, the crew crawled through a tube over the bomb bays to get to the front/back of the plane. It’s a tight space, totally enclosed and one more example of the guts of these guys.

The last B-29 was retired in 1960—that’s a good twenty year run for an incredible machine.

390th Memorial Museum

With the launch of the 390th Memorial Museum, Home of the B-17 Flying Fortress (new since our last trip), they’ve added an exemplary display of the history of these planes and the men who flew missions in them.

What a celebration of the B-17 Flying Fortress—the star of more than a dozen movies following a long life of starring in the service. Items from each squadron impress, displayed in cases as does the one containing service patches collected by one person and donated to the museum.

On one long wall is a cutaway showing a B-17, with crew, providing quite the perspective.

On the second floor are group photos of crews from various planes. Is one of your relatives listed? From this floor you get the broad view of “I’ll be Around,” which was one of the last B-17s produced by Lockheed. Since it was nearing the end of the war, she actually ended up serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.

If you’re unable to get to Arizona, but still interested in the museum, they have a virtual tour with over 100 panoramas, click here.

There’s also a listing of the museum’s aircraft, click here.

Twenty-five miles south is the Museum’s sister location, the Titan II Missile silo. We visited here on a previous trip and had a great docent who allowed me to be the one to push The Button. Could I do that in real life? Maybe if we were facing a zombie apocalypse.

The tour of the site that was live from 1963 – 1987 are only $9.5 per adult and starts outside on atop the launch duct. Next, you get to descend 35 feet into the missile complex to mission control. This gives you a chance to admire the folks who spent many days manning these silos when there was a real chance they would have to obey the order to launch.

The National Park Service runs a Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota not too far from the Badlands which we toured in 2010. This site was active from 1963 in the early 1990s.

Taking tours enlightens us, educates and in the case of our military history, reminds us to be appreciative and respectful of our veterans and active military.

*Read about Mr. Otey here. He and a friend built a 1909 Curtiss Model D Pusher…and flew it!

Military history tours enlightens, educates and reminds us to appreciate and respect our veterans… Click To Tweet

Also published on Medium.

24 Responses

  1. Susan Cooper
    | Reply

    What a great museum. I’ve not been so it yet another get place to add to a list of place to see when I’m in that area.
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Homemade Crème Fraiche: #RecipeMy Profile

  2. Jen Monks
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    I love taking museum tours. I need to add Pima Air and Space Museum to my list. My husband and I love history and are swept away every time we take similar excursions. We toured the aircraft carrier Intrepid while in New York. The planes were amazing pieces of technology. Very impressive!
    Jen Monks recently posted..7 Innovative Sites to Help You Crush It in BusinessMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I would like to tour another carrier/battleship after being on the Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Jen. They are overwhelming in their largeness.

  3. William Rusho
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    When I visit a museum, or something similar, I love taking the tours. It is a way to learn new. I often take the same tour several times, it seems each time a new fact is added, or I learned something I missed before.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      We’ve repeated the tour of the Library of Congress and, yep, I’d do it again. There is always something different. The docent at Taliesin (coming post) has been doing the tour for decades, but she said that she changes it and also the makeup of the group changes it. I thought that was cool.

  4. Donna Janke
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    I’d wanted to see this museum when we were in Tucson a couple of years ago, but ran out of time. I’m particularly interested in the Boneyard tour, which fills up quickly. Hopefully I’ll get to the museum in a future visit.
    Donna Janke recently posted..Winnipeg and Tyndall Stone: Fossils and ArchitectureMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I’m sad you didn’t get to see it, Donna, but know you’ll head that way again! Next time, we’ll do the Boneyard Tour, too, and see what we can learn.

  5. Erica
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    The Pima Air & Space Museum does seem like a place you truly can spend a full day. And I agree with you about pressing the button. It can seem all fun and games when you’re at a museum and everything is hypothetical. But it reminds you that people have to make these quick life and death decisions everyday. And It also explains why we need to provide our veterans better quality medical and mental support. .

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      Right on, Erica. The museums help bring all of that to mind–that we owe a debt of gratitude and support to our veterans. I know that I could never do what they did then and what they do now.

  6. Kristina Rylova
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    Thanks for sharing! Very interesting and it inspires me to get back to my 2017 plan to attend a museum per month 🙂

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      I like making that a scheduled thing, Kristina. Let’s see, so far I’ve missed January! Hit it in February with this trip and March with this trip–gotta’ love an overlap. April will be the Heinz History Center…thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Marquita Herald
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    Thanks for this RoseMary. I love museums but have to admit I wouldn’t normally think of visiting a military or air museum. This looks fascinating so I’m going to jump over and check out the virtual tour!
    Marquita Herald recently posted..The Empowering Effect of Sharing Your StoryMy Profile

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Marquita, I’m not sure that I would be drawn to these museums if I weren’t so fully addicted to celebrating our Veterans–so my interest stems from that more than the mechanics of airplanes, etc. Same reason we’ve been attending a 6 part lecture (free! at our library) this year by two local chaps–all about the D-day invasion and ensuing battles. Fascinating to hear them tell it in layperson’s terms and talk about the leaders’ traits.
      Hope the virtual tour worked!

  8. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    Interesting post, Rose. We, too, have toured a couple of fascinating Aviation Museums, but haven’t been to this one in Tuscon.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..exploring Hato Mayor in the Dominican RepublicMy Profile

  9. Emily
    | Reply

    I love museums. It is such a great place to really learn about history and to expand your knowledge about the world and this one seems like no exception.

    I agree with you, museums also help you garner more respect for the given topic. Learning about the history of flight and how it was used in WWII would be so fascinating.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      It sure is fascinating, Emily. Even better when there are veterans on hand to talk with. Amazing.

  10. Phoenicia
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    Museums are a place of discovery – we can never learn too much. I initially thought the first photograph showed a ride of some sort – me and theme park rides!!

    I enjoy following you on your many travels.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
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      It does look like that, Phoenicia. You can count on me to never write about theme parks–they are so not my thing!

      Thanks for coming along on my travels–it means a lot to me.

  11. Rose Mary Griffith
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    I’m the gal, Ken. Ha ha. We really like the Smithsonian Air & Space Museums and that Pima has such a massive outdoor area. Reminds me of the Chino boneyard—haven’t been there for 30 years, though!

  12. Ken Dowell
    | Reply

    Looks like an interesting museum. And now I know who to turn to at the first sign of a zombie apocolypse.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..History of Radio: The Enemies of Good RadioMy Profile

  13. Jackie LoPresti
    | Reply

    That’s some interesting information!

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