I first heard about the museum while researching things to do in Santa Rosa.
After the Charles Schulz Museum, it was an activity I was most looking forward to doing.
We went there on a Monday as we scheduled, but it turns out they are closed on Monday.
So we tried the next day and thankfully, it was open. From the outside, the building doesn't look like much, not impressive in the least – just a small building with a small sign and a door. No paved parking, just dirt and gravel.
An old warrior mans the front counter and accepts your admission of $10 (or in my case, $7 for being a senior citizen with I.D.). He off-handedly waved away my I.D. with a little grunt that I interpreted as "no need." Guess I look old and retired.
Off to the left is a room filled with glass cases filled with models of historic war planes, black-and-white and faded color photographs, airport dioramas, and plane parts. The walls are festooned with war posters and news articles, and familiar war planes hang from the ceiling. Squint your eyes and you can almost hear them screaming in attack dives on the enemy.
Then, you step through a door and enter another world outside, where dozens of real aircraft are parked in formation. It's an impressive display of wartime air power: prop fighters, jet fighters, helicopters, bombers, spy planes – all real-life versions of the model airplanes I used to put together when I was a youngster.
Again, squint your eyes and you can imagine yourself flying into battle, tracer bullets streaking all around you in a deadly dogfight.
|Grumman F-14A Tomcat|
|Northrup T-38A Talon|
|F-SE Tiger II Tactical Fighter|
|UH-1H Iroquois (Huey)|
|McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk|
Step back inside through a different door and you're in the gift shop, the old vet sitting at the counter, wondering if you're going to buy anything, and thanking you kindly when you step outside to return to the real world.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that everything in the exhibit room and the outside display area is identified, accompanied by little descriptions of the aircrafts' histories. Not all of the nonprofit group's planes are displayed. There are quite a number parked in covered "garages" beyond the fence.
For information on the museum's special events, you should visit their website: http://pacificcoastairmuseum.org.