Aviation museums have always fascinated me. I don't know if it was the fact that I
spent a lot of years in the U.S.
Air Force, or simply the fact that these early aviators took something that was so heavy there would be no way for
it to get off the ground, but it did and they flew them.
San Diego, California has one of the richest aviation heritages of any city in the country. Convair, home of such famous aircraft as the B-24 Liberator and the PBY Catalina, was founded there. Ryan Aeronautical, home of Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, was located there, and North Island Naval Air Station is the home of naval aviation. Much of that knowledge is captured and conveyed through the San Diego Air and Space Museum, a major institution unique to the region and one of the preeminent aviation museums in the nation.
Many local residents, including Preston M. "Sandy " Fleet, son of the founder of Consolidated Aircraft, and Captain Norvel R. Richardson, USN, believed the love affair with flight that began for San Diego in 1910 should be shared with the world. They took their ideas and enthusiasm to a group of prominent San Diego businessmen, including T. Claude Ryan and Joseph Jessop.
The San Diego Aerospace Museum was established on October 12, 1961, when the articles of incorporation submitted by the non-profit Citizen's Committee were approved by the State of California. When the idea was presented to then-Mayor Charles Dail, he recommended the vacant Food and Beverage Building in Balboa Park as an ideal location, and the City Council approved the recommendation.
This building was conceived by famous industrial designer / architect Charles Dorwin Teague in the dominant architectural style of the day, art deco. Its rounded interior display areas provide an ideal backdrop in which the Ford Motor Company could display its latest line of automobiles. The building contains a massive mural, another Juan Larrinaga design, depicting the progression of transportation throughout the ages and into a Hollywood-science fiction-matinee-inspired future. The mural; recessed, neon exterior lighting; a V-8 courtyard fountain; and numerous other features have been restored over the years. An open, sail-like covering, similar to that used in the San Diego Convention Center, was recently added to protect the vintage aircraft in the interior courtyard and to provide a unique venue for large receptions and private parties. Two historically-significant military aircraft, an A-12 Blackbird spy plane and a Convair Sea Dart, greet visitors as they approach the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Aviation history is truly a remarkable story, and it all unfolds at the Museum. Your journey through the history of flight begins as you stand beneath a model of the Montgolfier brothers' hot air balloon of 1783 - the first manned vehicle in recorded history to break the bonds of gravity and lift humans above the Earth.
Rare specimens of aircraft suggest the excitement of air combat in the World War I Gallery. Marvel at the entertaining and dangerous antics of the barnstormers of the 1920s in the Golden Age of Flight Gallery.
Mint condition aircraft in a mint condition museum - a Spitfire Mk. XVI, a Navy F6F Hellcat and an A-4 Skyhawk jet - these beautifully restored airplanes help you appreciate the increasingly complex technology represented in the classic military aircraft of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The Museum's display of space age technology, like the desire to journey to the stars, may never be finished, for it represents an adventure which the human race has truly just begun.
Daily 10am - 4:30pm
San Diego Air and Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, California