The March Field Air Museum, located along the Interstate 215 on the west side of the March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, California, displays one of the largest collections of military aircraft on the West Coast. Its history began in 1979 with a display of aviation artifacts in a former commissary building at the March Air Force Base. In 1993 the museum was moved to its current location on the west side of the runways for easier access to the public.
Upon entering the museum’s main hangar, you are greeted by a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance plane. It is accompanied by the Bell P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter to be put into service. Airacomets were never used in combat as their performance as a fighter was inferior to the piston-engine North American P-51 Mustang, but they paved the way for a future of other turbojet-powered aircraft.
Most of the museum’s collection of over 70 aircraft is displayed outdoors in a large air park. Make sure to have plenty of water, wear a hat and apply sunscreen as the area can get very hot, especially in summer. Some of the museum’s highlights include a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter, Boeing B-52D Stratofortress, North American F-86H Sabre, Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, Convair C-131D Samaritan, McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II, Martin EB-57B Canberra, and many others.
In addition to the to the full-size Boeing B-47E Stratojet the museum also displays a section of a Boeing B-47 cockpit which was used in the filming of the movie Strategic Air Command starring Jimmy Stewart and featuring Convair B-36 and Boeing B-47 bombers.
In the museum’s “MiG Alley” several Mikoyan-Gurevich jets are displayed including MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21 and MiG-23. They are accompanied by a Russian-designed Polish-built An-2 Colt transport plane, a design that was used by almost every Eastern European country during the Cold War. Several Vietnam-era helicopters are displayed at the nearby Fire Base Romeo Charlie which is a replica of a Forward Operating Location.
Occasionally you can also observe a take-off or a landing of a C-17 transport plane or a KC-135 tanker from the neighboring March ARB. The base also hosts a biennial air show which you can watch either from the base itself for free or from the March Field Air Museum grounds for a flat per vehicle fee.