Almost every weekend the distinctive roar of the radial piston engines of various World War II aircraft can be heard above of Motorcoach Country Club in Indio, CA. When you look up you may see an army green transport plane. This Douglass C-47, (also known as a DC-3 “Skytrain” in its commercial configuration) with its distinctive three “invasion stripes” takes between five and ten passengers on a tour that includes the Coachella Valley. The alternating black and white bands on the aircraft were placed on all allied aircraft in the WWII theater to identify them as friendly to invading forces during and after the Normandy invasion in 1944. On other days you may find a few other WWII combat aircraft flying in formation in the skies above the desert.
The Palm Springs Air Museum was established in 1996 by three men with a passion for vintage aircraft and originally had two hangers but now has expanded to four. The museum boasts of having more than fifty aircraft on display with many being serviceable and capable of flying…in addition to the C-47 other aircraft available for your flying experience include a P-51 Mustang, a T-33 Thunderbird (early Jet fighter) and several more.
In addition to a B-17 and B-25 bomber exhibit the museum now has on display a Lockheed Martin F-117A Nighthawk “Black Devil,” this aircraft was the first designed around stealth technology and was instrumental in the success of the Persian Gulf war. It was built by the infamous and secretive “skunk works” division of Lockheed Martin that also was responsible for the designing and building of the now retired of the 2200 mph SR-71 Blackbird.
The museum’s 86,000 sq. ft. hangers are climate controlled and are well-stocked with volunteers anxious to explain the details and stories of the innumerable displays. An interesting fact noted about the origin of the museum is when the facility was first proposed to be located in the northern area of the Palm Springs Airport, the resistance to this location by some institutions had to be overcome by then Mayor of Palm Springs and former congressman Sony Bono.
You may find more information about the museum at: palmspringsairmuseum.org