The morning started off with a quick walk through most of Balboa Park, beginning at the Natural History Museum and continuing down the El Prado pedestrian walkway, passing the Botanical Building and Lily Pond, skirting the Plaza de Panama with its fountain and bronze statue of El Cid, passing the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Spreckles Organ Pavilion, walking through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages and briefly exploring Palm Canyon Trail before finally ending up at the old Ford Building from the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. And after walking around inside the building for four and a half hours, taking almost three hundred and fifty photos, speaking with one elderly docent about Chuck Yeager‘s visit last Saturday, enjoying a Lind-Burger and a beer at the Flight Path Grill and going pee twice (thank you, Coronado Brewing Company), I would say that my time at the San Diego Air & Space Museum could genuinely be considered a successful visit.
Started off by seeing the prototype (Lockheed A-12) of my all-time favorite plane (SR-71 Blackbird) on exhibit out front of the museum. Inside the entrance rotunda housed exhibits beginning with a reproduction of Charles Lindbergh’s original Spirit of St. Louis (built in San Diego by Ryan Aeronautical Company) as well as the Apollo 9 command module and a couple of military unmanned drone vehicles, which are much bigger than most people realize. Also on hand was a very cool looking Ford Mustang tricked out with Blue Angels colors. From there I entered the early years of flight, from Da Vinci through World War I, followed by planes for air mail and barnstorming. That’s when I took my lunch break, eating outside on the observation deck and watching the comparatively giant passenger jets flying overhead on approach to Lindbergh Field. After lunch I checked out the PSA exhibit with tons of items from its history, including some of the flight attendants’ uniforms, including the miniskirt version. Those uniforms were housed in a reproduction of the first PSA ticket office from 1949, which itself was a discarded US Marine Corps latrine. They also had numerous plaques in memory of all those lost in 1978 airliner crash here in San Diego. From there I spent quite a bit of time in the Pavilion of Flight with its original Ford V8 fountain from 1935. Here I found an F4 Phantom chasing a MiG-17 and a huge PBY-5A Catalina, also built here in San Diego. Most spectacular was the Ford Trimotor which years ago I saw being refurbished in the museum’s basement. After that came World War II and finally the modern jet and space age with a Gemini spacecraft, an Apollo service module with capsule, a Mars rover and an actual Blue Angels F-18.
Way too many planes to list, hence all the photos (to come).
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