Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (fondly known simply as D-M) became
a military base in 1925, but its origins can be traced to the earliest
days of civil aviation. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, fresh from his
non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, flew his "Spirit of
St. Louis" to Tucson to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field -- then
the largest municipal airport in the United States.
From that early time forward, Tucson has had a hand in aviation history.
Due to the thousands of Air Force members who have been stationed
here have fallen in love with Tucson and vowed to return to retire,
there soon was a real interest in placing an air museum here. The
dry climate makes for self-preservation of the planes plus a growing
number of retired people were eager to volunteer which made it an
In 1966, a plan was presented to Pima County for an air museum, and,
by 1973 there were 35 planes from the storage area at D-M. On May
8, 1976, as an official Bicentennial event, the Pima Air Museum was
dedicated and opened to the public. The collection had grown to 75
aircraft. It continues to grow and now contains more than 200 planes.
The 20,000 square foot "Hangar Number One," completed in
1982, houses some of the fabric-covered planes and displays. In a
World War II barracks you will see World War II displays and a large
collection of aircraft models. There are other hangers to be seen
as well and more hangers and barracks in the future plans.
Not only can you look into the planes in the various areas both inside
and out, there is a hands on area which is always very popular, especially
with the kids. Additionally there is The Challenger Learning
Center of the Southwest, which is Southern Arizona's interactive
math and science learning laboratory. The learning center also includes
the Space gallery, which has many interactive and informative exhibits.
Several years ago Barry & Jacque were hosts for a conference
in Tucson and were able to secure one of the hangers for the evening.
It was catered and they had a song and dance group from the Tucson
area. They put on a terrific show with the clothes and music of World
Wars I and II. It was an evening people still talk about.
In May 1986, an addition to the Air Museum opened in Green Valley
just south of Tucson. It could not be brought to the museum facility,
as it is a missile silo. Titan II Missile Museum is in its underground
silo. Guided tours through the complex make it possible for the you
to view it exactly as it looked when it was being operated by the
Air Force 390th Strategic Missile Wing. Fifty-four Titan Missile Sites
had been located in the United States with 18 in Arizona. All have
been destroyed except for this site which has been preserved as a
museum. It stands today, as it stood on alert for 19 years, accurate
in every detail except for the empty booster and re-entry vehicle
in the silo. (Sometime ask Barry about his Air Force days as the supervisor
of the D-M Flight Surgeons office and of his trips out to the silos)
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