While out in California, one of the events was held at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The whole night had a patriotic theme. The entertainment had a Andrew Sisters tribute group and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator worked the crowd. This museum has over a dozen flyable World War II airplanes in its collection. For the dinner they had pushed a bunch of the planes out of the hangars to make room for the tables, which meant I couldn’t get very good pictures of them in the dark.
What they did leave behind were some real beauties. The top three planes of interest to me were the following:
Every museum with any WWII planes at all has to have a P-40. I’ve seen one at Udvar-Hazy and the Air Force Museum. The one in Palm Springs is a bit of a cheat. It is really a two-seat training version done up in Flying Tigers colors. One of the docents had the whole story of how the Flying Tigers were recruited pre-war from various military units around the country.
One of the speakers at the conference was James Bradley, author of Flag Of Our Fathers. He had a whole inspirational riff about doing the impossible and one of his examples was the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. These land-based bombers were taken by aircraft carrier to within range of Japan. They took off from the carrier, but were too heavy to land on the deck, so they continued on to China. As luck would have it, the Palm Springs Air Museum had one on display with a big presentation board about the raid.
The real centerpiece of the museum is this B-17 Flying Fortress. It had a crew of ten with guns festooned all over it. The line to walk through this stayed several people long all night. You could look into the cockpit, walk through the bomb bay, and exit by the ball turret.