The largest hangar in the museum was opened in 1982 and expanded twice, once in 2006 and again in 2010. There is an emphasis on pop culture and iconic airplanes like the SR-71 Blackbird, F-14 Tomcat, a Thunderbirds’ F-4E Phantom II, the world’s smallest bi-plane, and much more. With all there is to see, it’s entirely possible to spend the whole day in just this one hangar but here are some examples of the exhibits:
Sea Planes and Amphibians — Many early aircraft were designed to take off and land on water. This allowed areas with access to coasts and rivers to receive air service without the need for expensive airports. Sea planes and amphibians remain vital in many areas of the world today where the infrastructure does not support conventional land-based aircraft. In this exhibit you will see aircraft and artifacts related to the history of seaplanes from the 1920s to the present.
Aerial Reconnaissance — The first military use for an aircraft was reconnaissance and it has remained a vital role for both military in civil aviation today. This exhibit displays cameras, equipment and aircraft used in aerial reconnaissance from World War II to the SR-71.
Submarine Hunting — Aircraft are one of the deadliest enemies faced by submarines. This exhibit displays the weapons, sensors and aircraft used to hunt and kill submarines from World War II to the present.
Arizona Aviation — This exhibit, installed to celebrate the Centennial of the State of Arizona, displays artifacts from a century of aviation in the state.
Aircraft Carriers — Centered around the museum’s Grumman F-14 Tomcat, you will see examples of some of the tools and equipment used on the flight deck of a modern aircraft carrier and view a video taken aboard the USS Kitty Hawk in 1980 featuring the very same F-14.
Air War in South East Asia — Artifacts, audio recordings, videos and the iconic Huey helicopter illustrate the airpower used during the Vietnam War.
Great Paper Airplane Project — On March 21, 2012, the Pima Air & Space Museum flew the world’s largest paper airplane, named Arturo’s Desert Eagle. This exhibit details the first Great Paper Airplane Fly-off, its winner, the design and production team, and the plane’s flight through artifacts, photos, and a documentary video. The project lives on via the annual Great Paper Airplane Fly-off, visit greatpaperairplane.org for more information.
Women in Flight – The Joyce M. Corrigan Women in Flight Gallery examines women’s contributions in many aspects for aviation including, military, commercial, and civil aviation through artifacts, videos, and photographs. Artifacts include large collections of military and commercial airline uniforms worn by women from around the world. The museum’s Beech Bonanza and Lear 23, both formerly owned and flown by women are a highlight of the exhibit and provide a central focus around which the rest of the exhibition is placed.
Pima Air & Space Museum