After having lunch with Patrick I made my way over to the Palm Springs Air Museum, which I can honestly say is one of the best air museums I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few. My mom worked at one shortly after I was born, so I’ve always had a soft spot for air museums.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to many planes, with its main focus being on World War II, but also features planes from the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, and the Cold War. These three will soon be getting their own portion of the museum, but now, the subject matter is a bit scattered. The planes are all very visible, and visitors can get up-close to the aircrafts. Many of the planes have amazing nose art as well!
While it is an air museum, they also feature other war related items, including two subjects I find fascinating; trench art from World War I and II, and POW and MIA bracelets from the Vietnam War.
For the POW/MIA bracelets, they had two binders that told the stories of the POW or MIA soldiers and, if the donor wished, their story of why they decided to get a bracelet. From what I read bracelet wearers were both people who supported the war, and those strongly opposed, which I found very interesting. The binders was fascinating, as it mentioned if the remains of the soldiers had yet to be recovered, and some remains were recovered as recently as 2013. These stories showcase that closure from wars can come decades later.
A really unique offering at the Palm Springs Air Museum is the ability to climb inside a real B-17 Bomber (or an additional $5.00 donation)! I leaped at the chance!
One of my personal favorite topics of World War II is the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP for short), and the museum had a wonderful collection of WASP items, including a complete uniform.
In 1943, WASP director, Jacqueline Cochran convinced General Hap Arnold that her women should have their own uniforms. Cochran, with fashion designers at Bergdorf Gorman in New York designed the uniforms, and fashion coordinators from Neman Marcos personally fitted each woman for her uniform. The color blue was very specific, and inspired by Cochran’s time in Santiago, and the specific dye formula was named “Santiago Blue”. A docent told me Cochran kept the formula under lock and key, and destroyed it when the WASP disbanded, so no one else could have the color and it would remain only for the women of the WASP.
Fifinella, as seen above, was the WASP mascot. She was conceived by author Roald Dahl for his story The Gremlins. Disney Animation created hundreds of mascots for the military, including this Fifinella, as they were planning on doing a cartoon adaptation of The Gremlins, but it never happened. If you’re interested in Disney Studio’s involvement in World War II, I highly recommend the book Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to the Victory of the War by John Baxter (I keep meaning to do a review of this book, by the way). It is available on Amazon, and I have seen it in the Disney parks.
If you’re in Palm Springs, I highly recommend visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum. Active Military and their immediate families can get in for free, and retired Military with ID can enter at a discount. Additionally, if you purchase your ticket at Palm Springs’ Visitor Center you can buy it at a discount. To learn more about exhibits, hours, and admission, please visit Palm Springs Air Museum’s website.