SoCal Families | Yanks Air Museum
By: Jamie Solis
There is something about airplanes that fascinates even the youngest mind. To defy gravity using a piece of machinery that has been perfected over the years is almost mesmerizing, and if you are one who would appreciate the up-close history of it all, then Yanks Air Museum in Chino is the place for you. When you think of an aircraft museum, you think HUGE! And yes, the displays at this wonderful museum are massive, but don’t worry—it’s a comfortable indoor endeavor that will keep you cool even through the hottest SoCal months!
Making our way past the Chino Airport to the museum, we instantly noticed the humongous green military plane that stood outside, almost as a promise as to what a grand journey we were about to embark upon just beyond the museum’s entrance. The first hangar we entered into was full of planes from the early to mid 1900s. The bright, colorful planes and even an antique automobile were very inviting, and we began walking down the roped path to discover more about these beautiful aircrafts.
We quickly learned upon some signage in the hangar that, “All aircraft are airworthy and as original. They have been cleaned and painted for preservation. Minor details may have been altered to comply with FAA regulations for flight.” This means all the displayed masterpieces of flight are still operable today . . . how cool is that?!
One of the first planes that caught our eye was S-4C Scout, which is a Single Seat Open Cockpit Trainer Biplane that was first produced in 1918. This plane was able to reach a top speed of 95mph, and we couldn’t help but envision ourselves decked out in ‘20s attire, flying high above rolling green hills in the cockpit of this black and white checkered beauty.
We continued back through the section that housed various war machines, from vehicles to the B-25J-30NC Mitchell 3, which is a massive Six Seat Bomber first produced in 1940. It’s the same type of plane made famous in the movie, Pearl Harbor. Another unique war-fueled invention is the turret, and this exhibit had quite the collection.
The most famous turret is the Lower Ball Turret, which they have on display. This equipment protrudes from the lower fuselage of a B-17, and it is stocked with 500 rounds per gun. One of the last beauties to catch our eye was the Starfighter J-1, which is a Two Seat Trainer designed by Charles Day, and it was first made in 1917. This beautiful wood and steel machine was absolutely gorgeous. It definitely stopped us our in tracks with its commanding presence.
Making our rounds through the informative tour, we were ready to move on to the Starfighter Hangar, where we would discover some epic machinery from more modern decades. Instantly, we were greeted with fighter jets and various other attack aircraft found in the later half of the 20th century. There were so many awesome air vehicles, including the plane from Top Gun, however one of my favorites was a helicopter that was used to save people during wartime. Although it looks like a terrifying ride, those who were saved using the Bell Model 47D-1 (Medical Evacuation Helicopter) were definitely grateful for their outside-the-cabin ride to safety! There are various other aircraft-centric displays around the museum, including the “Evolution of Aircraft Seats.” It’s always intriguing to watch the development of the safety behind these planes in addition to the massive planes themselves that are abundant throughout this great museum.
Once you’ve taken your day to learn more about the history of aviation and aircraft, be sure to check out the gift shop that you make your way through as you leave the museum. Yanks Air Museum is full of new memories to be made. Bring those who matter most, and become submerged in a living, functioning history of exceptional manmade aircraft.
Yanks Air Museum is located at 7000 Merrill Ave. #35-A270, Chino, CA 91710. For more information visit their website.