Photos © Ruud Leeuw

USA Southwest 2008

Palm Springs Air Museum ,CA

14May08 was a beautiful, sunny day and when we left Hemet-Ryan Airport that should have been it for the day. The remaining afternoon was planned for a scenic route to final destination Lake Havasu City (and to Kingman the next day). But the weather forecast was described as 'dangerously hot' for that part of the world and we decided to head for Blythe, where we would nightstop.
The good news was I had time to squeeze in one more air museum...

5A Aluminum Falcon Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina N31235 (c/n 1788) 'Aluminum Falcon'

The museum has 2 large hangars, which hold an excellent collection of WW2-vintage aircraft. Almost all aircraft are in airworthy condition!
N31235 PBY-5A
This PBY-5A started its career as Bu.48426 in the US Navy. Afterwards, it flew for Trust Territory Air Services/Transocean Airlines and was based at Guam and Oakland,CA. Tailnumber NC33302.
Various subsequent owners made use of it, including Pacific Airlines of San Francisco and Alaska Coastal-Ellis Airlines. That ended around 1972.
It was converted to Steward-Davis Super Catalina (N3784C) and served with SLAFCO of Moses Lake, as a firebomber. Carried airtanker codes 80 and 98, tailnumber N3936A.
Source: Consolidated PBY Catalina, the Peacetime Record, by David Legg (Airlife Publishing, 2002).

Since 03Nov03 it was registered to Carmacks Commercial Corp. of Anchorage,AK and that was still current when it arrived at the museum in July 2007. Anno July 2008 that hasn't been revised.
The year of manufacture of this Consolidated Vultee 28-5ACF (serial no. 48426): 1944. Its manufacturer's serial number is 1788. More of its history can be read on

The interior of this PBY-5A is much less glamorous... Inside this PBY-5A



B-17 Miss Angela
B-17G Flying Fortress 'Miss Angela' has her engines named Grumpy and Sneezy...
Click for large size image History of 44-85778:
Looks ominous, to be registered to Ace Smelting Inc (of Phoenix,AZ 14Aug59), but no harm befell this proud warhorse as it continued, as N3509G, for Sonora Flying Service (Columbia,CA) 20Sep60-1961.
Next was Leo J. Demers of Madras,OR, (25May61-1966).
Flying as Tanker 97, a new career got underway with Aero Union Corp. of Chico,CA (29Apr66-1972). From 02Jun72 until 1978 it flew as Tanker E16 for William A. Dempsay/Central Air Service (Rantoul,KS). It continued in this capacity as Tanker 42, and 102 for Western Air Contractors of American Fork,UT (06July78-1981). The registry was changed somewhat, to Westernair of Albuquerque (Albuquerque,NM) for the period 16Jun81-1982.
Richard Vartanian/Aircraft Component Equipment Supplies, Inc. of Klamath Falls,OR became the next owner: 28Mar82-1990.
It was found stored at Stockton,CA during 1984-1990.
Arthur W. McDonnel of Mojave,CA purchased it in July, 1990 and next was Florida Aircraft Leasing Corp. of Miami,FL in Feb91.
Next we find Robert L. Waltrip/Lone Star Flight Museum (Galveston,TX) & Don Whittington/World Jet International of Ft Lauderdale,FL as owners: Apr91-1992.
This B-17 flew as 4485778 for Warbirds Of Great Britain, Bournemouth, Oct92. It was to fly as Sally A.
But it went back 'across the pond', to Bob Pond and it has been with the Palm Springs Air Museum since 1993, flying as Miss Angela.
One can have a look inside. The access to the aft of the aircraft is over the bombbay on a very narrow walkway: I would have hated to do that in flight with my fear of heights!
The presentation at bottom page includes more photos of the interior, including gunner positions.

AERO VINTAGE BOOKS, a B-17 Information Source

Powerful noseart

Wikipedia shows this A-26C to be 'JD-1' 44-35721 435721
I have no image of this A-26 showing its tailnumber, but the name 'Invader' sticks out. Images on internet taken at Palm Springs Air Museum in Nov.2015 show it still present.

On Warbird Registry I found the following details (not revised since 2002!):
Serial: 44-35721 - Construction nbr: 29000 - Civil Registration: N9425Z
1963 - 1964 Central Oregon Aerial Co., Inc, (Bend, OR) - Registered as N9425Z
1966-1992 Lynch Air Tankers (Billings,MT) - Flown as tanker #A24 (later #57)
Converted to Lynch STOL 26 configuration.
Sept. 1992-1997 Robert J. Pond/Planes Of Fame East (Minneapolis-Fling Cloud,MN)
Flew as 435721/Fire Eaters-Always (?-see note below)
1993- restored as USN/435721/BP 'Invader' at Chino,CA
1997-2002 Palm Springs Air Museum (Palm Springs,CA)

Note- I seriously doubt this Invader had anything to do with the film 'Always', as both have been accounted for (one still at Red Deer and one at Houston Hobby where I photographed N4818E in Nov.2015). Or maybe used in the filming of, e.g. used as a cameraship.

While googling I came across 435721/BP (N9425Z) pictured in 2014 at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, which is in Miramar,CA - LINK
N9425Z continues to be reg'd to Pond Warbirds LLC when I checked 11Dec2015.

Douglas Invader Survivors on WIKIPEDIA

North American / Aero Classics P-51D Mustang, N151BP. Manufactured 1944.

P-63A King Cobra 42-68864 'Pretty Polly'. See Warbird Registry.

This kind gentleman showed me a difference between the Grumman F4F / FM-2 'Wildcat' and the Grumman F6F-5 'Hellcat': the wing of Wildcat has to be folded by handcrank... The Hellcat had hydraulics fitted to do this (I hope I haven't got them mixed up!)
The idea of a folding wing was not new: as early as 1920, F.M. Osborne patented a high-wing monoplane with folding wings, but never produced this design. A 1928 plane with folding wings designed by W. Leonard Bonney crashed on its first flight.
When the US Navy desperately needed its aircraft to take up less space on ships, Grumman’s engineers designed a safe and reliable wing-folding mechanism. Using a draft eraser and paper clips, he found the proper angle at which the clips would need to pivot in order to open and refold. Although the original Sto-Wing operated with hydraulic cylinders, they added too much weight to the craft, so a model built from lighter materials was developed.
The Sto-Wing folding mechanism, by reducing the aircraft’s overall size, increased carrying capacity on ships by 50 percent. The Wildcat was one of the few US planes to be produced and utilized throughout World War II. Their simple design had the ruggedness and reliability required for carrier service, and became the model for many subsequent naval aircraft.


I could not find a tailnumber on the exterior of this Grumman Goose, but others have identified it as Grumman OA-13/G-21 Goose N95467 (cn 1161)
FAA's online facility N-inquiry has this endearing, 1942-vintage amphibian registered on 04Nov91 to Air Metal Fabricators Inc, Arlington WA, but this registry is marked 'Undel Tri', meaning Undeliverable Triennial which indicates a Triennial Aircraft Registration Report was returned by the Post Office as undeliverable). A bit strange, eh? had it for sale in 2011.

Update May 2016:
It is owned by Addison Pemberton and was trucked to Felts Field near Spokane,WA in March 2012 for major overhaul and restoration.
By June 2015 the aircraft had been painted and her gear installed. During november the rudder and overhauled engines were fitted and work was well underway on the cockpit wiring, electrical panels and interior quilting.
- R M Pettersen in 'Propliner Annual 2016', published in April 2016.

Update Mar.2017:
The restoration is in its final stages and a first flight is believed to be possible by next month. Among the updates I read 'N95467 has c/n 1161, is an ex-British model JRF-6B.' and 'c/n 1161 was FP511 in UK wartime service and became N95467 Excalibur 2 with Antilles Air Boats.' and 'Addison Pemberton's restoration of N95467 (msn 1161) will be going back to 2-bladed Ham Stds. with a new feathering setup for safety.'
N95467 in restoration @Pemberton and Sons Aviation

146048 Grumman C-1A Trader, N7171M Pond Warbirds, LLC., Palm Springs,CA (R29Jan98)
Surviving Grumman S2F Tracker Information Repository


Douglas C-47B N60154 / 044 (cn 16007/32755). On display here at the Palm Springs Air Museum, still in its former Israeli Defence Force markings (ex 4X-FMP/044).
Its career began as 44-76423 for the US Army Air Force and went to the RAF as Dakota IV KN381 in Feb.1945. Then to the Belgian AF as K39 (callsign OT-CWR) on 19Dec47, then to French AF (476423) and at some point to Israeli Defense Force Airforce (4X-FNV/035 4X-DCE).

[Source Joe Baugher's 1944 Serial Numbers]
Markings of a former life
The end of a fine visit

Robert Pond was one of the founders of the Palm Springs Air Museum. He passed away on December 14, 2007, aged 83.
Robert J. Pond Born in Minnesota, Mr. Pond always had a love for aviation. He spent his early years hanging around airports, a passion that culminated into his private airplane collection that is on display at the Palm Springs Air Museum.
Mr. Pond graduated from military school in 1942 and despite his parent s protests, signed up for the Navy Air Corps program, eventually earning his wings. During WWII, Pond became a Navy pilot, eventually flying PBM Martin Mariner twin-engine flying boats, and the Navy version of the B-24 Liberator, which was a four-engine craft called PB4Y Privateer, and the Navy's version of the B-26, the JM1 Marauder. After the war, he received a degree in business administration and joined the family business, a manufacturing company.
He worked his way up from sales to CEO and under his guidance the company became an industry leader. Retiring in 1992, Mr. Pond concentrated on philanthropic causes, receiving numerous community awards for his efforts.
In 1996, the Air Museum officially opened featuring his entire warbird collection and he also became an avid collector of vintage and classic automobiles. Before opening the Palm Springs Air Museum museum, Pond had established the Planes of Fame East Air Museum at Flying Cloud Field in Eden Prairie, Minn. It closed in 1997 as the collection was moved to Palm Springs.
Mr. Pond subsequently retired as Chairman Emeritus of the Air Museum.
Sources: +

At the time of my visit the staff and volunteers were awaiting news on what would happen to the museum and its uniques collection? Would the collection be sold or stay intact???

From: 'Aviation Museums and Collections of North America', by Bob Ogden (Air-Britain, 2007).
The book shows true dedication and is invaluable for air museum visitors. Available through

In 2011 a 2nd edition, fully revised and also including monuments, was published by Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd.


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