SoCal Families | Planes of Fame Air Museum
By: Jamie Durante
Southern California has some of the best family fun attractions, and Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino is no exception as a fascinating destination to visit year round. Planes of Fame Air Museum is a non-profit aviation museum that provides our community with valuable education on the history and heroes of aviation.
We decided to make our way out to Planes of Fame Air Museum following an enjoyable brunch at neighboring Flo’s Airport Cafe; both locations are just seconds away from the Chino Airport. With a giant B-176 located in the front of the museum, we knew we were at the right the right place.
Walking into the museum, we were greeted by a large mural of an aircraft that surprised us with a ferocious roar that seemingly came from the engine. What an exciting greeting! The entrance led into the gift shop, where we were welcomed by a friendly staff that offered us a brief history of the museum and information about the exhibits.
We set off into the Maloney Hangar, where there were various colorful airplanes, including a replica of The Wright Brothers’ plane complete with stories and photos about their inventive history. There was a full-size mock-up of the Apollo capsule from the Apollo Spaceflight Program that ran from 1961 to 1975. This capsule was built to travel around the country, educating and promoting the space program to suppliers and subcontractors.
On the other side of this huge hangar, there were World War II planes, complete with large-scale maps and timelines relating to the war. Built-in cases also displayed antique artifacts from WWII, with one of our favorite items being a Flight Record and Log.
Next, we headed into The Pond Hangar, which was named after Robert J. Pond, who was a huge supporter of the Planes of Fame Air Museum. This hangar seemed to be one of the largest, as it held countless American aircraft like the P-39 Airacobra and the Grumman J2F-6 “Duck.” While there were a ton of engines and airplanes in this hangar, the amount of war memorabilia that was on display is worth noting.
We next went outside to check out the Piccadilly Lilly II, which is a WWII B-176 that will fly again someday through donations by supporters. There was also a M5 Bomb Trailer outside that was used during WWII for transporting bombs from the ammo dump to aircraft. We went back inside and continued making our way through the museum and into the USS Enterprise CV-6 Hangar.
While this hangar was home to a great collection of memorabilia and aircraft, one of the most commanding attractions in this room was the TBM-3 Avenger. This huge bomber reaches a maximum speed of 276MPH, and there were 7,546 TBMs-3 Avengers made.
We made our way outside again to continue our tour into the Friedkin Hangar, where the museum’s restorations take place. During our visit, some of the coolest planes we saw were in this area. We especially liked the restoration hangar, because it’s a huge reason that a lot of the museum’s planes are still operable and able to compete in air shows.
Continuing on, we walked through the outdoor section dedicated to Unrestored Aircraft & Military Vehicle Display, and then we set forth toward the P-38 Lightning & 475th Fighter Group Hangar. The 475th Fighter Group was a highly successful U.S. Army Airforce Unit who won 562 victories during World War II. This permanent collection tells so much of the fighters’ story, from the beautiful Lockheed P-38 Lightning on display to the countless artifacts and memorabilia.
The final two collections we had left to visit were the Jet & Air Racers Hangar and The Foreign Hangar. These large hangars were jam-packed with airplanes big and small. “Stinger,” a plane that is a Formula One Racer was one plane we enjoyed checking out, and there was also McDonnell Douglas’ F-4 Phantom Drag Chute in addition to a neat collection of vintage Army Air Force cameras in this hangar.
The Foreign Hangar was the last but not least collection we visited of all seven hangars and two outside display areas that make up Planes of Fame in Chino. Of all the commanding planes and built-in display cases, an old school Rolls Royce was one of our favorite vehicles in this hangar.
Hours seemed to fly by, and we had made a full circle back to the gift shop. Planes of Fame Air Museum proved to be a great time for our family of three. It’s a great place for the families of all ages, because the education and history of the artifacts make it an educational experience for the older crowd, while little kids will be in awe at all the impressive aircraft, vehicles and displays.
Planes of Fame Air Museum is located at 7000 Merrill Ave., Ste. #17 in Chino, CA 91710. Normal hours are Sundays through Fridays from 10a.m. to 5p.m. and Saturday from 9a.m. to 5p.m. General admission is $11. Admission for children under 12 is $4, children under five admitted free. Seniors ages 65+ and veterans admitted for $10, members sand active duty military, police and firefighters admitted free. For more information call (909) 597-3722 or visit this website.
Full Disclosure: Planes of Fame Air Museum provided us with complimentary admission, however all opinions are 100% our own.