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What’s New at the Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum

Lift Your Spirits at the Air Museum

By Kevin Perry

As the temperature rises, so does our appetite for adventure. Our eyes gaze up at Palm Springs’ manicured landscaping, then further to the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, and finally at the perfect summer skies above. Humankind has always strived to conquer the clouds; after all, what could be cooler than that? No one understands the art of elevation and the thrill of aviation better than the Palm Springs Air Museum. If you’ve ever visited before, then you understand the grandeur of its exhibits.

But when was your last trip to the Air Museum? Because it has a fleet of new surprises ready to whisk you away!

palm springs air museum

“We’ve added the Miles Hangar,” announces Fred Bell, the museum’s Vice Chairman. Named for Major General Kenneth P. Miles, the sacred space honors those who served in Korea and Vietnam, but it also commemorates non-combat phenomena like the Cold War.

“We’ve added probably 10 aircraft over the last five years,” Bell continues. “There’s a lot to see and do. It’ll take four to six hours to get through the museum.” That’s four to six hours of air-conditioned splendor and spaciousness to spare.

“We have 91,000 feet under roof now,” narrates Bell, “on 10 acres. We have exhibits outside, as well.”

Palm Springs Air Museum
Palm Springs Air Museum

Up Close and Personal with a F-117

But let’s focus on the inviting chill of the indoor exhibits for now, shall we? The Air Museum recently added a new wing (pun intended) of construction to its already impressive sprawl. The Jim Houston Pavilion ushers guests from sea level to an experience that is truly out of this world.

“About four years ago, we were approached by the United States Air Force, that was retiring F-117 stealth fighters. That’s one of the most advanced aircraft in the Air Force inventory. They had been in hibernation for a while, because the F-35 had replaced it. They were going to start letting out four a year, and they wanted to know if we wanted one. One of the stipulations was: it had to be indoors.”

Bell and his crew went from zero-to-excited in record time.

“It wasn’t a lot of consternation on our part. We said, ‘Yes, we want one.’ Then, the odyssey started.”


Come See the Star of the Show

It was a journey of innovation and education. The resulting Houston Pavilion is a space-age marvel, shimmering with billowy silver drapes that transport your perspective to the far reaches of the stratosphere. “We’ve been working hard to get it finished. It’s a 5,000-foot exhibit that’s built around a stealth fighter, tail number 833. That is the second highest combat time aircraft in the United States Air Force fleet, of the stealth fighters.”

The star of the show is an accomplished vessel indeed. Its very name should be on the marquee of every multiplex!

“This particular airplane is called the Black Devil,” Bell explains. “The Iraqis called the stealth the Black Devil because they couldn’t see them at night.” But YOU must see it to believe it, which is a tall order, considering the Nighthawk’s pedigree and prowess.

“That airplane was designed to not only be not seen on radar, but it’s very hard to hear, and it’s very hard to see on the infrared spectrum. The airplane really does disappear, especially at night.”

Houston Pavilion at Palm Springs Air Museum
Houston Pavilion at Palm Springs Air Museum

Museum Fun Without Breaking the Bank

So, how much would YOU pay to witness this historic milestone of flight, brought conveniently down to earth in our hometown?

“The admission to stealth only costs 1.5 million dollars,” quips Bell. “I’m kidding. It’s part of the admission.”

That’s right: one affordable ticket price gains you access to the wild blue yonder of aviation excellence. Active duty personnel and their immediate family members are admitted free of charge, but that’s not all.

“We’re running our kids program,” Bell declares. “Kids 12 and under are free.”

Just in time for summer break!

But the Palm Springs Air Museum is a destination for all seasons. In fact, Fred Bell and his squad already have their sights set on the next fantastic voyage.

“We have come up with a program that will roll out in the fall, for school kids, called The Science of Stealth, about how stealth works. When you talk about stealth, there are a lot of things that go into it, that people don’t realize, from the coding on the airplane, to the shape, to the radios, to the engine exhaust.”

Kids 12 and Under Free Admission
Kids 12 and Under Free Admission

Something for Everyone

Reaching a fever pitch of reverence and revelry, Bell concludes, “We have exhibits on the men and women that were involved in the program, and all kinds of fun stuff like that.”

As they say: sun’s out, fun’s out! Bell and his flight crew are eager to welcome tourists and townies alike to the every-expanding array of attractions the museum has to offer. “We love being out here in Palm Springs. Over the summer, this is a great place to take kids for a nice visit, and for the entire family. Everybody can enjoy it.”

To vault your vacation to the next level, book a trip to the Palm Springs Air Museum. Get your head in the clouds!


Read about more Cool Palm Springs Activities this summer!

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