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These fabulous fliers at the Planes of Fame museum want to live forever

Starring in numerous TV shows and movies, most of the rare and incredible aircraft at the Planes of Fame Museum can still fly. Here's a look at their amazing collection.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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Planes of Fame

Located in Chino, California, just east of Los Angeles, the Planes of Fame Air Museum has a fascinating mix of propeller and jet aircraft. For instance, this is the only flyable Boeing P-26 Peashooter in the world, and it was restored here at the museum.

For more about the museum and this tour, check out Heroes of TV shows and movies can still fly at Planes of Fame Museum.

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Fast transport

This is the super rare Seversky P-35, aka the AT-12 Guardsman. Most ended up as fast transport aircraft, like this one, which was stationed in Denver. It's the only flyable AT-12 in the world.

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British thunder

This P-47 is flyable, and spent some time at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, shortly before we visited

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Ground attack

The P-47 was a beast, with a powerful radial engine, eight 50-cal. machine guns, and the ability to carry rockets or bombs.

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Oldest Corsair

This F4U Corsair was built in 1943 and saw action in the Pacific. Restored at the museum, it's the oldest airworthy Corsair in the world.

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Warbirds

On the right is a rare bird, a P-51C. If you see a P-51 in a museum it's almost always the later D variant. 

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C

This "C" is named Boise Bee, and is airworthy.

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D

The far more common D-variant of the P-51 is most recognizable by its bubble canopy. This one was built in 1944 and was a successful air racer after the war.

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B-17

The iconic B-17. The museum is restoring this one to flight-worthy status.

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Trainer

This example never saw combat, but was instead used as a trainer after the war.

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Famous

It was briefly a TV star, appearing in Twelve O'Clock High as the airplane Piccadilly Lilly.

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Carrier life

A long, narrow hangar houses some airplanes that served, or would have served, on aircraft carriers, like this F9F Panther.

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Ultimate oddball

One of the rarest, and weirdest, aircraft I've seen at a museum, this is the Ryan FR Fireball. It's one of the only fighter aircraft to use both piston/propeller and a turbojet. The jet's intakes were in the wing next to the fuselage. It could run on either, or both, engines. This is the only survivor of the 66 built. 

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Midcentury raider

The A-1 Skyraider was designed during WWII, and despite being propeller-powered it served the US Navy in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

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Slow and sturdy

The Skyraider had many characteristics that made it useful in the Jet Age, including long range, low-speed maneuverability and armor against ground fire. 

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Foldiest Avenger

This is the GM-built Grumman TBM Avenger. It was restored to flight-worthy status at the museum.

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Navion

This humble aircraft may not look like much, but it brings back memories for me. My first real job was working dispatch for a flight school at a sleepy little municipal airport. The company's main claim to fame was having a Ryan Navion, like this one, available to rent. One spring day there was an issue and the pilot had to ditch. Everyone on board was OK but the plane was wrecked. The business soon went belly up and the owner skipped town in the middle of the night, owing the entire airport staff money -- including about six weeks of my back wages. So it goes.

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Nice Mohawk

The front end of the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk looks like that of a helicopter. Originally designed as an unarmed observation aircraft, it was later adapted to carry some weaponry.

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Flying tiger

This gorgeous F7F-3 Tigercat is airworthy. Though designed and flown in WWII, it never saw combat in that war. A few years later it did during the Korean War. The small frontal area gave it great speed.

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Bombs of water

Though this one has a traditional bomb bay, many Tigercats were converted to water bombers after leaving military service.

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Hello, Dolly

The museum's other airworthy P-51D, Dolly. 

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One owner

Dolly has been owned by the owner of the museum since 1957. It has been maintained in flying condition ever since.   

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Big Mitch

The museum's airworthy B-25 Mitchell undergoes some maintenance. 

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Another star

This is another of the museum's aircraft that has starred in movies and TV shows like Forever Young, Pearl Harbor and Catch-22 (the new one). 

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Resto shop

The museum has its own restoration shop on site, and has restored many of the planes here.

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Prop

A Spitfire, parts of one anyway, used in the movie Dunkirk.

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Boneyard

The museum has a small boneyard as a sort of holding area for aircraft awaiting restoration. 

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Wingless

The wingless fuselage of a Hispano HA-200.

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Camo star

A Lockheed C-60 Lodestar. While a strong performer, it was expensive to maintain and only a fraction were built compared to the ubiquitous C-47. 

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Tubby buck

This big-bellied two-seater is the T-2 Buckeye, a fairly common Navy trainer that you don't see very often in museums. 

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Skyhawk

A sun-bleached Skyhawk

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Convair

I'm pretty sure that's the nose of a Convair 240.

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Fury

An FJ-3 Fury awaiting restoration (or maybe just a new coat of paint). This one's in pretty good shape.

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Sherman star

The museum has a handful of land vehicles as well, like this Sherman tank that has been used in movies and commercials.

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Desert thunder

The F-84F Thunderstreak. The most obvious change over its same-numbered predecessor is the swept-back wings.

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Fake German

Despite the garb, this is a Post-war Swiss Pilatus P-2. This one is airworthy, so perhaps it's dressed like this for a movie role. 

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Famous and flyable Zero

This is the only flyable Mitsubishi Zero with its original Japanese engine in the world. This example was first stationed on Iwo Jima, and then later on Saipan, where it was captured by the US. It was used as an evaluation aircraft by the Navy and was flown by many pilots, including Charles Lindbergh. Later it was flown in Japan for demonstration flights, the only Zero to do so after the war. It also appeared in the movies Tora, Tora, Tora and Pearl Harbor.

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Yak

This Yak-3 was painted to represent the Normandie-Niemen which flew with the Russians on the Eastern Front against the Nazis.

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Flying Fw

This Fw 190 is a replica, but it's a flying replica. 

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Captured Heinkel

This is an actual Heinkel He 162, captured at the end of WWII and flight-tested at Muroc AFB.

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Gondola

This gondola was used as part of two different Goodyear Blimps, the Spirit of America and the Enterprise.

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Gondola goodies

Blimps were used in WWII, and many of the hangars used to store them are still standing. One in Oregon is now home to the Tillamook Air Museum, which is an incredible building with some cool aircraft. We did a full tour which you can check out in Ghost blimps haunt a humongous hangar at the Tillamook Air Museum

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Judy

One of only two Yokosuka D4Y Suisei, aka Judy, dive bombers. This one was found engineless in the early '90s, and during restoration had a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 installed.

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Raiden

Not a replica, an actual Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden. These were land-based but used by the Japanese Navy, and were designed by the same engineer that designed the more famous Zero. This is the only surviving example in the world.

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Japanese German

Though it looks like a model of an Me-163 rocket-powered interceptor, this is the Mitsubishi J8M, the Japanese version. This is one of two remaining examples, and the only one outside of Japan.

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Famous 50

This is the fuselage of Lucky Lady II, a B-50 that was the first aircraft to circle the globe nonstop (thanks to midair refueling, of course). 

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Damaged drone

This F-100D was converted to to be an unmanned target drone, and in that role it sustained damage from an air-to-air missile fired from an F-15.

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Dr. Sam Beckett

This isn't an actual X-2, but a replica built for the pilot of the TV show Quantum Leap.

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Fly like lightning

The museum's home-restored and flyable P-38 gets its own hangar, and as it should. It's immaculate.

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Polish MiG

A MiG-17 built under license in Poland, where it was called a Lim-5.

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Czechmate

This MiG-21 flew with the Czech Air Force.

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Gnice Gnat

The Folland Gnat, a British jet trainer from the '60s and '70s. 

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Sky rockets in flight

This is actually the first Douglas Skyrocket. The second one built was the first aircraft to break Mach 2. Still, an impressively rare and historic aircraft.

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Fortress

The museum's B-17 is usually open on weekends if you want a look inside. There are also certain days when the museum flies some of their aircraft.

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Legends

The Planes of Fame isn't huge, but definitely has an impressive collection of rare, restored and flyable aircraft. 

Even better, you can hit two great museums in one trip to Chino. On the other side of the airport is the Yanks Air Museum, with its fascinating boneyard.

Check out more about this tour and the museum in Heroes of TV shows and movies can still fly at Planes of Fame Museum.

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