Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “Pima Air & Space Museum”

Pima Air & Space Museum

How’s this for obscure? This Columbia XJL-1 amphibious plane was developed and built from a Grumman design in 1946, then accepted for testing by the Navy in 1947. The 3rd of 3 built, it suffered repeated structural failures in 1948, and was dropped from the program in 1949. Two surviving examples were sold to a Martin Aircraft engineer for $450, and he worked at restoring them until his death in 1955. In 1957, his widow sold this one to a Chicago resident on the condition that he make the plane fly at least once, which he did later that same year.

If you like a goodly percentage of aircraft that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else, the Pima Air & Space museum is for you. It’s a private, non-profit museum in Tucson, Arizona. With 150 aircraft indoors and another 150 on the grounds spread out over 80 acres, this is an aircraft extravaganza not to be missed. They claim that you can see everything in 3-4 hours, but this is an optimized estimate based on fast-marching and tram-riding like there is no tomorrow. I suspect this timing assumes that the visitor take a stout dose of amphetamines, wear roller skates, and have an aversion to reading informational placards. If you want to stop and gawk or want to get up close, the additional minutes quickly add to the hour count.

This 1970 Pereira Osprey II amphibian was tested for use as a civil police observation plane in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It successfully completed tests, but was dropped anyway. It became a home-built kit plane in 1975, with 200 sold. This one was wrecked in 1982 after an engine failure, then was rebuilt over the next 6 years. It can reach 130 MPH, which is not too shabby for an amphibious Short Takeoff and Landing craft (STOL).

There are 4 hangers, of which I toured one and listened to a volunteer docent do his thing on each craft. I got there about 9:15AM and gawked, then did the docent-guided tour at 10:30, which lasted until 11:20. That gave me just enough time to grab a reserved seat on the tram tour, which lasted almost an hour. By that time, I decided that Read more…

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