Air-Minded: San Diego Air & Space Photoblog

My friend John is a former Navy flight surgeon and Navy pilot, which makes him a member of a very small community. He flew F-4 Phantoms and F-14 Tomcats at the same time I flew F-15 Eagles for the Air Force. We’ve been friends since the early 1990s, when we were both on active duty and flying; he attended my retirement at Nellis AFB in 1997 and I attended his at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego a year later.

Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart, San Diego Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)
Flyboys reliving past glories

Donna and I visited John and his wife Melanie in San Diego earlier this week. As part of our visit, John and I took a side trip to the San Diego Air & Space Museum on Tuesday. That’s us out front, posing in front of a Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart. You don’t see one of those every day.

I hadn’t been to SDASM in 20 years, but wanted to see it again because Iremembered it had many pre-WWII aircraft in its collection, an era of aviation not represented at Pima Air & Space, where I volunteer as a docent. This time around I was surprised to see a number of WWI and pre-WWI aircraft as well.

Some older aircraft are the genuine article; others are reproductions. The reproductions are so expertly done I didn’t know I wasn’t looking at original aircraft until I got home and started matching my photos with SDASM’s exhibit listing. I was convinced their Bell X-1 mockup, for example, was a genuine flight article. It’s so much better done than my own museum’s X-15 mockup, which is crude in comparison.

SDASM’s building in Balboa Park is small, but like Doctor Who’s Tardis, there’s a lot inside. Here are a few samples. Hover over the photos for aircraft identification, or click on them to see the full-sized originals on Flickr (there are several more photos in my Flickr SDASM album):

Boeing P-26 Peashooter (reproduction) Gee Bee R-1
Bell X-1 (mock-up) McDonnell Douglas F-4J/S Phantom II

Ford Trimotor 5-AT Chance Vought F4U Corsair
Fokker E III Eindecker (reproduction) Horton 229 V3 (mock-up)

Mitsubishi A6M7 Zero-sen Douglas A-4B Skyhawk
NYP-3 Spirit of St. Louis (flying replica) NYP-3 Spirit of St. Louis (flying replica)

And, since it won’t fit in a table like the others, here’s one for the road:

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina
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