The Western Museum of Flight is located on the Zamperini Field in Torrance, California. The airport was once known as Torrance Municipal Airport but it was renamed for local Olympic runner and WWII B-24 bombardier Louis Zamperini on December 7, 1946, the 5th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The collection housed in the museum’s main hangar includes a North American F-86F Sabre, previously flown by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, Northrop F-5E Tiger used by more than a dozen countries around the world and one of the three surviving original Northrop flying wings, the JB-1 Bat built in 1942.
Other hangar exhibits include a Bede BD-5 kit aircraft, several target drones, over 300 wind tunnel and plastic models, a 1942 Model C-3 Link Trainer, numerous jet engines, and an extensive collection of historic photographs and blueprints. In the hangar opposite the main one, you can also view a fully restored two-seat Hawker Siddeley Harrier T.4. trainer.
The museum also features a small fenced area at the other corner of the Zamperini Field and to get there you need to drive your own vehicle through the airport with a friendly museum docent as your guide. Upon arrival, you are first greeted with a view of a Northrop YF-17 Cobra prototype, which lost the USAF’s Lightweight Fighter competition to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon but was later reborn in an enlarged form as the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet.
The next rare aircraft in the collection is one of the two Northrop/McDonnell Douglas YF-23, the “Gray Ghost” stealth fighter demonstrator with characteristic but unconventional diamond-shaped wings. It lost the competition to the Lockheed YF-22 which later became a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The two prototypes are accompanied by a Grumman F-14A Tomcat, Douglas A-4A Skyhawk and the first Northrop T-38A Talon that rolled off the assembly line.