Santa Maria Museum of Flight

by | Oct 4, 2018 | California | 0 comments

Location & history

The history of the Santa Maria Museum of Flight began in 1983, when local business leaders got together to discuss the idea of preserving aviation history of the Santa Maria Valley. Initially the museum opened as a gift shop in the terminal building of the Santa Maria Public Airport, the former Santa Maria Army Air Field. Some of the early aviation artifacts were acquired from the closing aerospace museum in the nearby city of Lompoc.

Address:
3015 Airpark Dr, Santa Maria, CA 93455

Hours:
Friday and Saturday 10AM–4PM; Sunday 12PM–3PM

Admission:
Adults : $5.00; Seniors : $4.00; Children : 7-11 years $2.00 / 12 – 17 years $3.00

Phone:
(805) 922-8758

Website:
smmof.org

Title Address Description
Santa Maria Museum of Flight
3015 Airpark Dr, Santa Maria, CA 93455, USA

The Rocketeer movie

The museum soon outgrew its first location, and after a successful fundraising moved to a hangar erected on land leased from the airport. Soon after, Santa Maria Museum of Flight acquired another hangar that was built close by as a prop for Disney’s The Rocketeer movie. The building serves today as the main museum entrance and a gift shop. A 1929 Fleet Model 2 airplane is exhibited inside alongside many other artifacts including a replica of the Rocketeer costume and an RC scale model of the plane used in the Flight of The Phoenix movie starring Dennis Quaid.

Santa Maria Museum of Flight

Santa Maria Museum of Flight

Fighter jets and homebuilts

When walking outside to a second hangar, visitors pass by a restored McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II and a Douglas A-4L Skyhawk previously assigned to senator John McCain’s Attack Squadron VA-163, the Saints. They are accompanied on the ramp by a 1943 Stinson L-5 Sentinel and several homebuilt or kit aircraft including Rutan Quickie, Sonex and Bowers Fly Baby.

McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II

McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II

Hughes H-1 Racer replica

A static replica of the Hughes H-1 Racer is definitely a centerpiece of the second hangar. It was used in the famous movie The Aviator after the only flying replica crashed not far from the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone killing Jim Wright, the pilot and owner of the plane. A museum docent confirmed that Leonardo DiCaprio himself sat in that plane during the filming on the ground while another scale RC model was used for aerial shots. The original Hughes H-1 Racer is on display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

Hughes H-1 Racer replica

Hughes H-1 Racer replica

Lockheed P-38 replica

The second hangar also has a half-size Lockheed P-38 replica. The original owner, Walter Treadwill of Livermore, California, couldn’t afford to buy a Lighting so he decided in the early 90s to build a fully functional flying replica. The museum was very happy when the owner decided to donate it, as the Santa Maria Army Air Field was used to train P-38 pilots during the World War II.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning scale flying replica

Lockheed P-38 Lightning scale flying replica

Other aircraft

Other aircraft exhibited in the second hangar include 1943 Stinson V77 Reliant, a British Folland Gnat F.1. and a RotorWay Exec 90 helicopter. It also displays the famous Norden Bombsight, Link trainer, a piece of the Challenger Space Shuttle and many other aviation memorabilia.

Folland Gnat F.1

Folland Gnat F.1

More Photos

About The Author

Igor K.

I am the founder and editor-in-chief of the AirMuseumGuide.com blog. Together with my son - hopefully a future aerospace engineer - we are trying to visit as many aviation and aerospace museums in the US as possible with the ultimate goal of visiting them all. We have been able to visit approximately 60 so far. We are hoping this site will help preserve aviation history and inspire young people to pursue a career in aerospace.

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