Valle of the Planes

The Valle of the Planes is located near the Grand Canyon in Arizona at Grand Canyon-Valle Airport, an old Trans World Airlines (TWA ) base and the former  Grand Canyon Airport. The museum houses a collection of more than twenty rare aircraft in one hangar and an outdoor park. The pride of the collection is a Lockheed C-121A, the military version of the famous Constellation airliner of the forties and fifties. This aircraft, built in 1949, has a distinguished history, starting with service during the Berlin Airlift in 1949-50.

            Following the end of the airlift, the aircraft was fitted with a deluxe interior for service as a VIP transport. It was issued to General Douglas MacArthur and was called the “Bataan,” after the infamous Bataan Death March which troops under MacArthur had endured in 1942. MacArthur used the Bataan during the Korean War, when he was Supreme Commander of Allied Powers. This airplane carried him to his famous meeting with President Harry S Truman on Wake Island, and to the United States after his dismissal by Truman for making political statements about the conduct of the war. In 1966, the Bataan was stripped of her interior and flown to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. Later acquired by NASA, the airplane was fitted with computers and telemetry equipment and used in support of the Apollo moon program. Retired once again upon the drawdown of the space program, the Bataan was flown to Fort Rucker for display at the Museum of Army Flying. The aircraft was kept on outdoor display there, and was acquired the Grand Canyon Air Museum and restored to flying condition, it arrived in Arizona in April 1995. The Bataan represents the days when the Constellation was the “Queen of the Skies.” Visitors can take a guided tour of the interior of this historic aircraft.

            Another exhibit is a 1929 Ford 5-AT Trimotor, one of just three still flying in the world. Built by the Ford Motor Company, the Trimotor introduced new standards of luxury and speed. The aircraft on display at the Grand Canyon Air Museum served with various airlines in Central America, returning to the United States in the sixties for promotional work with TWA. This Ford Trimotor was used by Scenic Airlines for tourist flights over the Grand Canyon until Federal noise regulations forced its retirement.

            The museum is famous for its vintage fighter aircraft collection. The P-51A on display is one of the oldest Mustangs still flying. The F-86A is a Korean War veteran.

The Messerschmitt Bf109G-10 was captured in Germany at the end of World War II. This aircraft was flown from its base on the Eastern Front to surrender to the American forces near Munich in May 1945 because of the poor treatment of German fighter pilots by the Russians.

            During World War II, the United States alone produced more than three hundred thousand military aircraft. When the war ended, most of these airplanes were scrapped at vast disposal centers.

Tel: (520) 635-1000, Web Site: http://www.planesoffame.org/valle

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