• Travel

Visiting Tucson Pima Air and Space Museum – Travel Diary 5


Tucson was a late addition to our travel itinerary; randomly, it was all thanks to Stephen Fry. On the run up to a trip I like to binge watch as many travel programmes as possible to get inspiration – one of these happened to be Stephen Fry in America; where he takes his black London cab to an aeroplane boneyard. Pablo is an aeroplane geek; his childhood dream was to be a pilot in the RAF, so when I saw his face light up at the line of disused planes on TV I did a bit of research and found that the Pima Air and Space Museum was pretty much on route.

Only 1.5 hours away from Phoenix it was nice to have a short car day for a change of pace. Arriving at the museum we were greeted by the most friendly volunteers who stopped for a chat, welcomed us and shook our hands. This warm hospitality continued throughout the museum and made me so unbelievably happy. The ticket (with boneyard tour) cost $22, which allowed us to wander around 5 hangers of planes as well as a large outdoor area.

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There was plenty to see at The Pima Air & Space Museum as it is one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world and houses over 300 aircraft over 80 acres of land.

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The first hangar was filled with a huge variety of aircraft including, bombers, amphibious, the smallest plane in the world, helicopters painted with threatening faces, and a replica of the first plane, to name but a few. These were also accompanied by some planes made famous by movies such as Top Gun and “Airplane!”.

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The museum also hosts many exhibits featuring the military, women in flight and an entire hangar dedicated to space.

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Heading outside I was interested in checking out the colourful planes I had seen from the road which were decorated by artists including Kenny Scharf, Nunca, Retna, Saner, Jerkey Jermel and, my personal favourite, Naughty Angels by Faile.

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Running around in the sunshine and being so tiny compared to the giant machines I felt like a kid again.

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With so much to see, two hours passed quickly and soon it was time for our tour which took us on a coach trip through the military base to the boneyard. Our guide was engaging, incredibly knowable and though much of what was being said went over my head, it was really interesting.

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Most of the museum workers are USAF veterans and have some amazing stories if you take the time to stop for a chat.

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Pablo practically bounced off the coach after getting to see so many of his favourite planes and being surrounded by so many enthusiasts. 4.5 hours in I was kind of done so we took a quick trip to the space hanger before heading to our hotel.

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The Desert On The Lodge was a stark contrast to our grungy Phoenix Airbnb. The room was huge, with a swimming pool nearby and a lovely patio bar with fire pits to stave off the desert chill in the air. Catching the end of happy hour we decided to hang around for dinner instead of trying to find somewhere to eat.

To work off our meal we went for a late night dip in the pool. It was so nice to get a bit of exercise after days of sitting in the car. After our splash we got locked out of our room so I had to stand dripping wet on the doorstep whilst the other hotel guests got treated to a soggy Pablo, in just his swim shorts, at reception, which totally cracked me up. Showered, warm and tucked up in our bed watching Elf, I felt totally relaxed.

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Tuscon would not have even been on my radar but travelling is about trying new things and this day trip was a pleasant surprise.

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