Superb Restorations at Chino’s Air Museums

Located in San Bernardino Country, California, the city of Chino has two museums which will be of interest to aviation enthusiasts – the Planes of Fame Air Museum and the Yanks Air Museum, both of which are located at the Chino Airport. The Planes of Fame Air Museum has a large collecting of both flying and static aircraft and is the base for restoration of rare and historic aircraft from around the world, while the Yanks Air Museum, as the name suggests, is devoted to restoring, preserving and exhibiting American aircraft and aviation-related artifacts.

Established by Edward T. Maloney in January 1957, the Planes of Fame Air Museum was initially located in Claremont, California, and was known as The Air Museum. At that time a group of volunteers undertook to restore derelict aircraft to an airworthy condition to take to the skies once more, and this remains a priority of the museum. When the museum’s collection became too large for its Claremont premises it was moved in 1962 to a venue close to Ontario Airport in California, before being moved again in 1970 to Chino Airport, where it remains today. The venue at Chino Airport features a hands-on aviation youth education center, offices, a gift shop, a library and restoration facilities. Display areas include aircraft from the Korean War, Vietnam War and the so-called Cold War era (1947-1991). The Japanese aircraft collection at the museum includes the only airworthy Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter in the world, as well as an Aichi D3A such as those seen in the memorable movie Tora Tora Tora about the historic attack on Pearl Harbor.

With more than 160 aircraft in its collection, the Yanks Air Museum has the most extensive private collection of American World War II aircraft in the world, many of which are the last of their kind. Rare WWII aircraft in the collection include the P-40 Warhawk, P-51A Mustang, P-38 Lightning, P-47M Thunderbolt, F6F Hellcat and B-25 Mitchell. Visitors to the museum can take a behind-the-scenes look at aircraft restorations as they take place in the Restorations Hangar, with dedicated staff and volunteers using the techniques of the eras the various aircraft were manufactured in to restore them to their original state – a fascinating process worth checking out.