A few years back when visiting Tombstone, we passed an airplane boneyard off the I-10 freeway and Mr. Misadventures and I made a mental note to get there one day. While searching for what exactly the boneyard was called and how to get inside, I stumbled across information about the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson.
Pima Air & Space Museum is the largest privately funded air museum in the world with over 300 airplanes on 80 acres of land. Best of all, you can touch and feel and photograph to your heart’s content!
Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, but it seems to me that most of the museums I have visited in the last decade just aren’t very “fun.” Generally, they all have rules for photography and you can never get up close to anything. It is frustrating!
But not Pima Air & Space Museum!
If you love airplanes (what traveler doesn’t?) and history you will love this museum. You can spend hours (and we did) in and around all the planes up close. There are tons of great docents, ex-pilots or folks that worked with the planes, and they love to talk, tell stories and share unique aspects about the individual planes.
I have to admit I had a lot of fun taking photos of the different instructions around the planes!
With over 300 planes, they practically have one of everything even a new 787 Dreamliner! (My “only” complaint, and it is tiny, is that I would have loved to be able to go inside some of these planes. I know, I just complained about not being able to touch them, which you can totally do at Pima, and now I want more!)
When’s the last time you had this view?
I am fascinated by the early commercial flights, the legends being PanAm (I saw some of their history in Key West) and TWA.
It is so cool to walk and sit under the planes, look into the propellers and get so close. In this photo,
Like here, where I am sitting on a bench under a Boeing EC-135J. It was kind of them to provide benches, they must know the plight of photographer’s wife….lots of waiting!
There are planes from all over the world, NASA, Air Force One planes…see so easy to geek out! We were able to photograph awesome details that we generally aren’t able to get because of museum barriers.
While we were out walking the grounds getting lost in all the planes, the jet pilots at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (which butts up against the museum) were taking off. They were hitting the air at a rate of one per minute it was pretty awesome to see them as I watched while standing under the 787.
There is an extra tour ($7) you can purchase with your museum entry which takes you onto the base to see the boneyard there, however, we passed on that because it is done via a bus and you cannot get off the bus to get close. We were so satisfied with all the planes we did get access to at the museum, we didn’t think it made sense to do the extra tour.
The museum has a great little restaurant and multiple hangars of planes and air history, enough to spend many hours without getting bored. If you are in the Phoenix area it is worth the drive to Tucson (a little more than an hour by car) to visit Pima Air & Space Museum.
Check for special events when planning your trip. They host lecture series throughout the year as well. There is one coming up in March about women pilots and I am really interested in attending when we are back in Arizona for the month.
After your visit, when you are ready to head home, I highly recommend seeking out Tucson Tamales just down the road. They have some of the most amazing tamales I’ve had in my life. You can’t visit Tucson without stopping! Plus they are the nicest people!
After lunch we also bought some frozen ones to take with us, a quick steam makes for an easy and delicious dinner.
Note for RVers: We didn’t bring our RV, but there is plenty of parking that would accommodate a rig and tow car, so it is definitely doable on your way in or out of the Phoenix area.
How about you? Do you like air and space museums? Have you been to Pima? Got other Tucson recommendations including restaurants? Do tell!
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