- 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 and equipment used in aerial reconnaissance from World War I 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. (Exhibit picutred to the left.)
- 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.
- Vietnam Air War—Artifacts, audio recordings, and videos illustrate the massive commitment of aerial firepower the United States brought to bear on North Vietnam from 1964 to 1975.
- 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 who was joined the expert design and production team and the plane's flight. Watch the process captured on video. The project lives on via the annual Great Paper Airplane Fly-off held the first Saturday in February. More information is at greatpaperairplane.org.
- 376th Bomb Group—Through artifacts and photographs this exhibit looks at the first American heavy bomber unit to see combat against Germany during World War II.
- Black Aviators—Artifacts, photographs and models illustrate some of the many contributions of African-Americans to the development and history of aviation.
- 446th Bomb Group—This photographic exhibit illustrates the contributions of the 446th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force to Allied victory in World War II.
- B-26 Marauder—Artifacts and models drawn from the International Archive of the Martin B-26 Marauder are used to illustrate the story of the men and women who designed, built and flew the Martin B-26 Marauder during World War II. (See photo on the left.)
- 315th Bomb Wing—Photographs illustrate the history of the men of the 315th Bomb Wing who flew B-29 Superfortresses against Japan in the last months of World War II.
- 330th Bomb Group—A collection of artifacts from the World War II crew of the B-29 Superfortress on display at the museum.
- X-Planes—Models illustrate the history of the experimental aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force, NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the precursor to NASA), and NASA to extend human knowledge of the principles of flight from the X-1 that broke the sound barrier to the X-45 hypersonic test plane.
- The Space Race—This extensive exhibit uses artifacts, models, photographs and text to examine the Cold War's highest battlefield, the race to the Moon.
- Follow the Water—Follow the scientific exploration of Mars and the search for water on the red planet.
- Materials Technology—Explore the materials from natural minerals to man-made super composites that make up the air- and spacecraft that soar over our heads every day.
- The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF) offers Pima Air and Space Museum visitors a unique opportunity to acquaint themselves with noteworthy Arizona aviators. AAHOF is a permanent shrine to Arizonans who have played a role in or made a significant contribution to aviation and aerospace history.
To access information on the outdoor aircraft, use your smart phone or tablet to scan the QR codes (that will link you to that plane's web summary) using a QR reader app. Your personal carrier's message and data rates apply.
- Firestone Galleries' "The Bone Yard Project: Return Trip" contemporary art painted planes are displayed in 2 locations: Outside near Valencia Rd., northeast of the Space Gallery & the Administration/Hangar 2:
- Outside near Valencia Rd.
- Spy Tiger by Andrew Schoultz, 2012. American contemporary artist Andrew Schoultz used acrylic on a Lockheed VC-140 . He is an acclaimed street artist known for his un-commissioned public art.
- Naughty Angels by Faile, 2012. A Beechcraft UC-45 was painted with acrylic by the collaborative duo Faile. They emerged in New York during the 90s, creating original work inspired by pop culture on streets all over the world.
- Back to Supersonica by Kenny Scharf, 2013. The latest addition to the collection, contemporary artist Scharf spray painted a Lockheed Jetstar VC-140. He is an LA-based artist known for large scale paintings and installations based on pop-culture and science fiction.
2. "Behind"/south of Hangar 4. (Photo to the left is a detail of the plane re-envisoned by Brazilian artist Nunca located behind Hanger 4.):
- Warning Shot by Retna, 2011. With ink and latex, the artist depicted his own original alphabet, influenced by a variety of hieroglyphics and characters, on the entire body of a Douglas DC-3. Originally from Los Angles, the former street artist is now sought after by collectors and curators for his monochromatic canvases.
- Jerkey Jermel by Bast, 2012. The cockpit of a Douglas DC-3 is adorned with mixed media. The Brooklyn-bred artist has been a vital part of the street art scene for 15 years and often utilizes screen printing. He has also collaborated with fashion designer Marc Jacobs on clothing items for his eponymous line.
- Warriors in Peace by Saner, 2011. The Mexico City artist painted the cockpit of a Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter with spray paint. He is a multitalented visual artist, illustrator, muralist, and graphic designer.
- Times Flies by How and Nosm, 2011. German-born twins used spray paint on a Douglas DC-3. They have painted large murals around the world, which have brought them to the street artist forefront.
- The Beauty of Flight (located in the museum driveway) is a rock, metal and fiberglass sculpture comprised of 3 fiberglass models of the Northrop-McDonnell Douglas YF-23, a prototype single-seat twin engine fighter aircraft designed for the U.S. Air Force.
- The Beacon (located southwest of the museum driveway and Valencia Road intersection) is one part of a series of lighted “airways” linking major cities across the country that the U.S. government created during the 1920s. The lighted Airway Beacons were a substantial navigation aid in an era prior to the development of radio navigation. 24-inch-diameter rotating beacons were mounted on 53-foot high towers, and spaced 10 miles apart. The spacing was closer in the mountains, and farther apart in the plains. The beacons were 5-million candlepower, and rotated 6 times a minute. Their effectiveness was limited by visibility and weather conditions. By 1933 approximately 1,500 airway beacons had been constructed to guide pilots from city to city, covering 18,000 miles from coast to coast. Radio navigation systems began to replace the lights in 1929 but it was not until the 1970s that the last of the beacons were officially turned off. The lights are sometimes called “Lindy Lights” in recognition of Charles Lindbergh’s efforts to promote the system during the 1920s. The one preserved at the Pima Air & Space Museum is believed to have originally been placed at the airport in Douglas, Arizona.