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The Pima Air and Space Museum

Updated on January 23, 2016

The Fortunes of War

Among the many sites in Tucson is an outdoor air museum whose main attraction is the hundreds of retired military aircraft on display there.

Since Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is where the Air Force stores its fleet of old aircraft and planes to be held in reserve for future use or be scrapped, the Pima Air and Space Museum has been able to acquire samples of most of the aircraft that the Air Force has flown as well as aircraft from the Army and Navy.

Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, like most Air Force bases in the U.S., has some old planes on public display on the base.  However, the number is relatively small and only open to viewing by people who have a pass to get on the base.

A National Guard KC-97 refueling two jet fighters

In my Hub entitled A Memorial to Veteran Aviators and Their Planes, I have written about the beautiful little park on that base and illustrated it with pictures of many of the planes in that park.

However, that collection is dwarfed by the collection of planes at the Pima Air and Space Museum.

The museum also recently acquired some Soviet Air Force MiG fighter aircraft which now sits on display with the American aircraft.

Visitors can now view aircraft from both sides of the Cold War and for me this was a reason to visit the museum again with my family for personal reasons which are described below.

A Reflection on How Things Have Changed

In past years I have taken my two sons out to view the aircraft which include a T-29 trainer in which I learned air navigation skills while enrolled in the USAF Institute of Air Navigation at the old Mather, AFB in Sacramento, California when I was in the Air Force.

They also have a KC-97 tanker aircraft that I flew as a navigator in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

In the past, visiting a museum and seeing things that one worked with a few years earlier would have made one feel old. However, with the pace at which technology advances it would be surprising NOT to find your work tools from a few years ago as artifacts in a museum.

Recently my wife, son and step-son spent a Saturday touring the museum and taking pictures posing by the KC-97 and the MiG fighters which her father used to fly.

You see, back in the early 1970s while I was flying refueling missions in a KC-97 providing fuel to our jet fighters who were guarding Western Europe against a feared attack from the East, my future father-in-law was on the east side of the Iron Curtain flying a MiG fighter guarding Eastern Europe from a feared attack by us.

Today I am happily married to his daughter and consider his two grandchildren to be my own. Samples of the planes that we once flew now sit silently in the desert basking in the Tucson sun and serve as backdrops for photos to be sent to the family in Russia.

Welcome to the Pima Air and Space Museum

Entrance to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ
Entrance to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ | Source

Soviet MIG-U151T1 Fighter

My wife and two of my sons by a MiG-U15T1
My wife and two of my sons by a MiG-U15T1 | Source

A KC-97 Tanker like the ones I flew.

A KC-97 Air Tanker at Pima Air and Space Museum
A KC-97 Air Tanker at Pima Air and Space Museum | Source

Two Soviet MiG Fighters

A Soviet Air Force MiG-U15T1 and MiG-21PF at the Pima Air and Space Museum
A Soviet Air Force MiG-U15T1 and MiG-21PF at the Pima Air and Space Museum | Source

Soviet MiG-15 Fighter Jet

My wife and sons in front of a Soviet Air Force MiG-15 at the Pima Air and Space Museum
My wife and sons in front of a Soviet Air Force MiG-15 at the Pima Air and Space Museum | Source

"Boom" in tail of KC-97 that holds hose for refueling.

"Boom" in tail of KC-97 that holds hose for refueling
"Boom" in tail of KC-97 that holds hose for refueling | Source

Soviet MiG-21 Fighter Jet

A Soviet Air Force MiG-21PF at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ
A Soviet Air Force MiG-21PF at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ | Source

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      Don Shurts 8 years ago

      If someone is moving to WPAFB, I'd be happy to help you find your home near the base.

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