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 Our Mission,   Vision, & History 

Mission Statement

The mission of Planes of Fame Air Museum is to preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honor aviation pioneers and veterans.

Vision Statement

The vision is to build a world-renowned interactive center for aviation heritage and education, featuring exhibits, educational programs, flight demonstrations, and entertainments which attracts and serves residents and visitors alike.



The Planes of Fame Air Museum opened on January 12, 1957. The site was a former lumber yard in Claremont, California. The sign out front read simply, “The Air Museum.” There was no need to be more specific. At the time, no other air museums existed west of the Mississippi River.

The Museum continued to grow, acquiring new aircraft, aviation artifacts, and memorabilia. By 1962, the Claremont facility had run out of space. At this same time, a new idea began to take shape – why not restore some aircraft to flight? To achieve this would require an airport-based location.

In June 1963, the Air Museum relocated to Ontario Airport in Ontario, California. Occupying two hangars, the Museum now had a home large enough to display the collection and room to conduct restoration work.

A few years later, in 1970, a unique opportunity surfaced. The non-flying, static aircraft moved to Buena Park, California to become part of the “Movie World: Cars of the Stars and Planes of Fame Museum.” Housed in two large buildings on Orangethorpe Avenue, the Southern California attraction remained open until 1973.

With the closure of Movie World, the next chapter in the Museum’s history saw yet another relocation. The Chino Airport, located on the border of the cities of Chino and Ontario, California, was an ideal location for the display of the ever-expanding collection, provided room for the important restoration work, and offered plenty of airspace for flying demonstrations.

Another significant change occurred with the opening in 1974 of the Chino facility. The Museum was given a new name. Combining the current “The Air Museum” with the “Planes of Fame” moniker, the Museum hereafter would be known as the “Planes of Fame Air Museum.”

Over the next forty-plus years, the Museum would continue to flourish. New additions to the collection continued. Restoration work put several rare and unique aircraft back into the sky, including the Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, the Boeing P-26 Peashooter, and the Northrop N9MB Flying Wing. The annual Airshow commenced, thrilling the public with the sights and sounds of bygone eras. Film and television work, and several air racing victories by staff and volunteers brought added notoriety to the Museum.

By 1995, with the collection growing ever larger, particularly the number of flying aircraft, a second facility was opened near the southern rim of the Grand Canyon in Valle, Arizona.  This facility would remain open until the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, when it was closed to the public and converted into a facility focused on aircraft restoration.


Chino remains the base of operations for the Museum. Seven hangars house the collection with several additional buildings including the Aviation Discovery Center, the Research Library, the Model Room, and a small theater. Altogether, including structures and outside tarmac displays, the Chino location comprises a 14-acre campus. The collection now numbers over 160 aircraft with more than 35 in flyable condition.


In 2022, the Museum signed a lease agreement at the Santa Maria Airport in Santa Maria, California.  Groundbreaking began in 2023 on a multi-phase project that will create a substantial presence for the Museum on 23 acres at this historic airport.  Phase One is expected to be completed and open to the public by 2025.

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