Courtesy: Planes of Fame Air Museum
Chino – After nearly a decade of wheeling and dealing to collect his first ten aircraft, Ed Maloney opened the Museum on January 12, 1957.
The site was a former lumber yard in Claremont, California. The sign out front read simply, “The Air Museum.” There was no need to be more specific. At the time, no other air museums existed west of the Mississippi River.
Ed continued to grow the Museum, acquiring new aircraft, aviation artifacts, and memorabilia. By 1962, the Claremont facility had run out of space. At this same time, a new idea began to take shape – why not restore some aircraft to flight? To achieve this would require an airport-based location.
In June 1963, the Air Museum relocated to Ontario Airport in Ontario, California. Occupying two hangars, the Museum now had a home large enough to display the collection and room to conduct restoration work.
A few years later, in 1970, a unique opportunity surfaced. The non-flying, static aircraft moved to Buena Park, California to become part of the “Movie World: Cars of the Stars and Planes of Fame Museum.” Housed in two large buildings on Orangethorpe Avenue, the Southern California attraction remained open until 1973.
With the closure of Movie World, the next chapter in the Museum’s history saw yet another relocation. The Chino Airport, located on the border of the cities of Chino and Ontario, California, was an ideal location for the display of the ever-expanding collection, provided room for the important restoration work, and offered plenty of airspace for flying demonstrations.
Another significant change occurred with the opening in 1974 of the Chino facility. The Museum was given a new name. Combining the current “The Air Museum” with the “Planes of Fame” moniker, the Museum hereafter would be known as the “Planes of Fame Air Museum.”
Over the next forty-plus years, the Museum would continue to flourish. New additions to the collection continued. Restoration work put several rare and unique aircraft back into the sky, including the Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, the Boeing P-26 Peashooter, and the Northrop N9MB Flying Wing. The annual Airshow commenced, thrilling the public with the sights and sounds of bygone eras. Film and television work, and several air racing victories by staff and volunteers brought added notoriety to the Museum.
Chino remains the base of operations for the Museum. Seven hangars house the collection with several additional buildings including the Aviation Discovery Center, the Research Library, the Model Room, and a small theater. Altogether, including structures and outside tarmac displays, the Chino location comprises a 14-acre campus. The collection now numbers close to 160 aircraft, and nearly a quarter of these fly regularly.
With our mission to guide us, and Ed’s vision to lead the way, the Museum flies on into a very bright future.
Planes of Fame Air Museum is located at 14998 Cal Aero Dr, Chino, CA 91710-9056 and can be reached at (909) 597-3722. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit planesoffame.org for more information and history.