This Saturday, April 1st the Planes of Fame Air Museum will fly another of their most popular aircraft – the crowd-thrilling Lockheed P-38J Lightning, s/n 44-23314. Please don’t worry… this is not an “April Fools” joke! Considered to be one of the best fighter aircraft of the second world war, this twin-engined demon fought across multiple theaters. Indeed the two leading U.S. fighter aces in World War II both flew the type, and the type was a key player in several critical battles, including the interception and shoot down of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an event which feature during the Hangar Talk. The Flying Demo will begin at 12:15 pm and include a brief presentation from the museum’s Richard Malvino, followed by an engine start directly in front of the crowd. The aircraft will then taxi away for take off while the “Members Only Raffle” takes place – the prize for this being a free flight in Planes of Fame’s Vultee BT-13B Valiant!
The Lightning will fly over the museum for roughly twenty minutes. Upon its return, guests will be able to ask questions of her pilot, longtime museum flyer, Kevin Eldridge. In addition to all of the above, food trucks will be on hand as will Museum Guides, who will tell you stories about Planes of Fame and its world-renowned collection. There will be fun for the kids too, and the B-17 Flying Fortress will be open for visitors to tour the inside. What a great way to spend the day at Planes of Fame!
Planes of Fame’s P-38J, built in Burbank, California, and delivered into service during May, 1944, has the distinction of being the 5,018th P-38 built – halfway through the total number of Lightnings which Lockheed produced. The fighter served with the 483d Army Air Force Base Unit in Santa Maria, California – a Replacement Training Unit providing combat crew training for P-38s during WWII. In September 1945, the military transferred the now-redundant airframe to the Hancock College of Aeronautics which used it to instruct trainee maintenance personnel. The Museum acquired the aircraft in 1959. In 1988, the aircraft returned to flying condition, thanks to a generous donation towards its restoration from Bob and Josie Pond.
Today, there are fewer than two dozen intact Lightning airframes in preservation anywhere in the world, with barely more than a handful in active flying condition. Steve Hinton’s Fighter Rebuilders, with assistance from museum volunteers, performed a 13-month restoration of the P-38 at Chino. The museum’s Lightning has seen a little Hollywood screen time, having flown in the 1992 movie, Iron Eagle III.
The museum’s doors will open at 9:00 am, while the Hangar Talk presentation will begin at 10:30 am, lasting until 12:00 pm. Regular admission prices are in effect, but Museum Members always get in free!
For more information about the event, visit www.planesoffame.org
Stanley inlisted in 1917 for WWl and was stationed in Texas to control the Border. He was also stationed in Saute St Marie at the locks.