In September 1973, Yanks Air Museum acquired and then restored its first airplane, the Beechcraft D-17S Staggerwing. Today the collection contains over 200 aircraft, starting with the 1903 Wright Flyer (the only replica in the collection) and continues through to the Golden Age (Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Travel Air 6000A, Ryan B-1 Brougham), World War II (Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, North American P-51D Mustang, Lockheed P-38L Lightning), Early Jets (North American F-86F Sabre, Republic F-84E Thunderjet, North American FJ-1 Fury) and Modern Jets (General Dynamics F-16B Fighting Falcon, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18B Hornet, Grumman F-14A Tomcat).
The museum shares Chino Airport in Chino, California with the Planes of Fame Museum. Yank’s another museum facility is being built in Greenfield, California, which will also include an advanced-technology education center, hotel and spa, winery, restaurants, service facilities, shops and a recreational vehicle park.
Many of the museum’s aircraft were built in Southern California and some are the only survivors of their type. Yanks’ intention is to restore each aircraft to flight worthiness, but some of them will never be flown due to their rarity. The Restoration Hangar is the place to witness the restoration process first-hand. It sometimes takes years of labor and decades of hunting for original materials and parts specific to the aircraft being restored.
The Restoration Hangar is also a place to meet Connie, a fluffy resident manager named after the Lockheed EC-121T Warning Star, the largest aircraft at Yanks. You are more than welcome to pet her unless she is busy chasing mice or overseeing her favorite restoration project, the Cessna UC-78 Bobcat.
Newly acquired aircraft wait their turn for restoration in the adjacent Boneyard. You can freely explore it and sometimes peek inside of the cut fuselages or engines. There are some very interesting planes here including a Curtiss C-46F Commando, Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer and Fairchild C-123K Provider featured in the 1990 Air America movie (referral link) about a passenger and cargo airline covertly owned by the CIA and operating during the Vietnam War.
A recent History Channel documentary “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence” was partially filmed at the Yanks Air Museum. In the special, a metal piece found in 2015 at the Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands was visually matched to a corresponding part of the Yanks’ Lockheed 12-A Electra Junior suggesting it might have come from similar Lockheed Electra Model 10 that Earhart flew in.
Check the museum’s events page for the upcoming Open Cockpit days when you can tour the Lockheed EC-121T Super Constellation and sit inside one of the featured aircraft.