Airbase Arizona Museum

It’s been well over a year since we were able to set foot in a museum. Oh how we missed them! We spent several hours touring Airbase Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum in Arizona, with friends Dave and Marilyn. Although it was one of the smaller plane museum’s we have visited, it had a number of things we have never seen before.

Below is a replica of a Nieuport 28, built in France, and flown during WWI. It was the first fighter aircraft for the United States.

The plane below is a 7/8 scale flying replica of the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E. 5a, one of the fastest aircraft flown during World War I.

The museum was able to obtain an actual steel artifact from the USS Arizona, which was sunk in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When the USS Arizona wreckage was declared a national memorial in the 1960’s, a portion of the wreckage was removed so the visitor’s bridge could be installed. The pieces that were removed were stored by the Navy in Pearl Harbor. The Airbase Arizona Museum requested a piece of the wreckage, and the Navy granted their request and they received this piece in 2019.

The North American F-89 Sabre

And the most produced jet fighter type in the world, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21PF “Fishbed-D.” (in case you are wondering how I remember all of this, I take a picture of the sign, and then the airplane!)

The museum has several helicopters on display. The Bell UH-1B “Huey” Gunship

The very “slim” AH-1F Cobra SN67-15589

And the Sikorsky H-19 Chicasaw, used during the Korean War.

The Douglas A/B-26C “Invader” was used during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The North America P-51D Mustang was a single pilot fighter bomber used during WWII and the Korean War.

The “red plane” is a Frankfort Sailplane Company QQ-3, a remote controlled drone used by anti-aircraft artillery for target practice. 9,403 drones were produced, but there are only 6 left in existence. It was painted red for better visibility in the museum.

Outside the museum, they had a Douglas C-47 “SkyTrain”, used as a cargo troop carrier.

You are able to walk inside this plane. And we quickly realized why they may have it outside, with the windows open. It had a very strong odor of cigarette smoke. According to the plaque (see below), the plane was operated during WWII.

The Boeing B-17G Bomber “Sentimental Journey” was undergoing routine maintenance. You can actually schedule a ride on this plane. It was also one of the few planes that you could walk (or rather “squeeze” through).

This is what I mean by “squeezing” through..

But it does get a bit wider in the back!

The front of the B-17G Bomber from the inside…

And the view of the front from the exterior.

The bay doors below have been signed by many of the brave men that have flown on this World War II Flying Fortress.

They have a display of fighter pilot head gear over the years.

I always enjoy the personalized symbols on the planes

If you are in the Mesa, Arizona area, this is definitely worth a visit. The four of us had a great day reliving history.

Quote for the Day: “If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing.” – Chuck Yeager

Trains, Automobiles and Guns

In continuing on with the Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Guns themes (Planes were the last post), we visited Union Station, in downtown Ogden, Utah.  It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.  The station contains four small museums that you can visit, for $7.00 per adult.  The current station was built in 1924, after the previous station burned down.

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The Grand Lobby in Union Station

In Wisconsin, we call this a bubbler.  The rest of the country, for whatever reason, seems to think this is a water fountain.

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At it’s heyday, 120 trains went through Ogden every day.  Union Station is now used to house several small museums, including an outdoor display of diesel and steam engines.

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The Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has a small space honoring the Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame as well as historic western memorabilia.

The Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum has about a dozen old cars on display.  What is unique about the cars is they are all driven out of the museum every year during the annual Heritage Festival in Ogden every May.

The blue car on the right is a 1931 Lincoln Model 202A.

P1050978 (2)Below is the 1929 Pierce-Arrow.

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Below, on the far right, a 1929 Durant model 6-60.  The red vehicle is a 1911 Knox Model S Roadster.  The beige vehicle on the far left is a 1930 Cadillac Model 452.

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The Utah State Railroad Museum is now the proud owner of the The Golden Spike safe, which was originally held at Stanford University, and contained the original Golden Spike of 1869, a 17.6 karat gold spike used to connect the final rail of the Transcontinental Railroad, connecting the Union Pacific with the Central Pacific in Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, May 10, 1869.

After the 1989 earthquake in California, the museum displaying the safe and spike was damaged, and a new museum was built, with a new display case for the spike.  The safe was then donated to this museum in 2010.  The “golden spike” on display in the safe is the Utah Centennial Golden Spike.

Before trains, people were not really aware of “time.”  There was morning, afternoon, evening and night.  People used sundials to keep track of time.  After trains, “time” became important, and people soon realized that the time in Chicago was not the same as the time in Ogden.  In 1884, the National Railway Time Convention proposed standard time zones, and in 1918 Congress finally passed the Standard Time Act, making the time zones official.

The John M. Browning Firearms Museum  has a large display of firearms.  The museum started with the history of the Browning family, talking about John M Browning’s father, Jonathan.  The family history was a bit confusing, because Jonathan was a polygamist with several wives and lots of children.  (too many branches in the family tree!).  Jonathan was a gunsmith in Ogden, and John followed in his footsteps, working in his shop at young age.  He is considered to be one of the most successful gun designers in history, with many of his 128 patented designs still in use today.   He sold many of his designs to Winchester, Colt, Remington and Fabrique National de Herstel (FN) of Belgium.  Original models of his guns are on display.  They provide an excellent history on the development of rifles, shot guns and automatic weapons.

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His very first invention, in 1878, was the single shot rifle (top rifle in the photo below).  In 1883, he sold the patent to Winchester, and in 1885, they started selling Model 1885 in 33 calibers (bottom rifle).

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John M Browning also developed a 9mm pistol.  The top pistol was his first prototype, and the other three were patents he sold to Fabrique National (FN).

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He developed a number of weapons for the military.

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Including this automatic rifle, which was first used near the end of WWI, and continued to be used through the Vietnam War.  It can fire 500 rounds per minute.

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In 1911, Browning designed the M1911, semi-automatic weapon used by the military as their standard sidearm.  It was manufactured by Colt, and used until 1986. Below are several variations of the model.

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If you are a gun owner, John M Browning probably had something to do with the design and development of the guns that you own.  We enjoyed our visit to Union Station, and highly recommend a visit if you are in Ogden, Utah.

Now it’s back to work…

Quote of the Day:  “Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.” – Jamie Lyn Beatty

 

 

 

 

Yuma Territorial Prison

We have finished up our work camping in Yuma, and have moved on to the Phoenix area for a week of relaxation.  I will do a final post on our work camping experience, but I wanted to finish up on our Yuma posts first.  We always enjoy visiting museums and historical sites, and spent a few hours with our friends Dave and Marilyn visiting the old prison in town.

On July 1, 1876, the Yuma Territorial Prison opened its gates for the first time to prisoners, and continued to accept prisoners, both male and female, until it closed in 1909.  The last prisoners were transferred to the new Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona.

The prison has an interesting history, and is worth visiting if you are in the Yuma area.  Many of the original cell blocks remain, but a lot of the buildings and exterior walls have been demolished to make room for the railroad, or were destroyed in a fire.  This is a photograph of the prison complex when it was in full operation.  At the time, the Colorado River came right up to the rocks.

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The main guard tower was reconstructed on its original site.  The Sally Port remains intact, as well as the buildings behind it, which are not visible on this photo.

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Main Guard Tower

The Sally Port is where the prisoners entered/exited the prison.  It was large enough to hold a covered wagon, with both doors locked, for unloading the prisoners.

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Six prisoners were assigned to each cell, and in 1901, iron bunks were installed, since the wooden bunks became severely infested with bed bugs.

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Marilyn, Dave and Dan

This is the exterior of the six-person cell blocks.   The cage on the left is part of the “incorrigible” ward that was built in 1904, and consisted of five steel cages.

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When prisoners misbehaved, they were sent to the “dark cell,” where they endured 24 hours of darkness, along with snakes and bats.  As part of the guided tour, you go down the hallway into the dark cell, to experience what it was like.  As we discovered, the bats are still there…they didn’t like the flash photography (you can see a few in the photo on the right)

The Yuma prison was “co-ed”, and twenty-nine women spent time in prison (many for adultery).  They had a separate cell that was a bit “nicer.”

The prisoners, not surprisingly, hated the place, but the local community thought the prison was more like a country club.  The museum contains a lot of interesting information about the prisoners, life at the time, and a display of weapons.

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The Yumans perspective:

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The prisoners perspective:

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In 1910, the Yuma high school burned down, and classes were held in the prison from 1910 – 1914 while a new school was being built.  When the Yuma high school football team upset a team from Phoenix, those fans complained it was ‘criminal’ and the school decided to adopt the nickname “Criminals.”   That name remains in place today, and their mascot is the face of a hardened criminal.  It’s the only school in the country where you can rightfully call the students criminals!

Quote for the day:  “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” – Victor Hugo

Military Testing: Yuma Proving Grounds

First off, a special thanks to blog readers Jim P. and Wayne W. who replied on my last blog that this building is a VOR Station, allowing aircraft to use their radio beams to navigate throughout the US.  Always good to learn something new every day!  dsc05652 (1)

About 30 miles northeast of Yuma is the United States Army Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG), which covers 1300 square miles of the Sonoran Desert.  General Motors also operates a test track on the grounds, and permits the Army to test their vehicles on the tracks that GM built, at no cost to the government.  You can visit parts of the YPG, but not the GM facility.  If you do go to YPG, you must have photo identification, proof of vehicle insurance, and current vehicle registration of the vehicle that you are driving, in order to get onto the grounds where the free Heritage Center museum is located.

There is a nice display of weapons that have been tested at YPG since WWII, outside of the facility.  Some have been put into military use, and others discarded as not acceptable.

The facility has a long history, going back to World War II, when the Army trained over one million men and women out in the desert to prepare for combat. General Patton was instrumental in getting this training facility started. He felt this would be an excellent area to prepare the troops for WWII.  The museum has an interesting movie about the WWII training experience, including many first-hand recollections from WWII veterans.

The grounds are still in use today for combat training.  When you drive around in the area, you can see small makeshift cities that our troops continue to train in, to simulate desert conditions in the Middle East.

The museum has displays of what the base was like in the 1940s and 50s.  At the time, these were state of the art technology.  Looking at this telephone, we all started going “one ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” at the same time! (you need to be over 45 to get that)

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XY Dial Central Office Equipment

When testing equipment, it’s is crucial to document and record the test, which is where this Film Processing Machine came into use.

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This camera has been in use since 1944 to record rocket testing.

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RC-2 (Bowen) Ribbon-Frame Camera

YPG is testing items for the modern-day soldier, including this cooling vest that serves as a base layer, and the night vision goggles.

A lot of ammunition gets tested out in the desert, and we could hear a lot of “booms” going off as we walked around on the premises.

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The YPG is also a major testing/training area for parachuting, including high-altitude jumps.  They had one very famous visitor to the area, when former President George H.W. Bush decided to jump out of an airplane at the young age of 72.   The museum has framed a copy of the autographed newspaper on the wall.

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Quote for the day:  “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur

 

 

 

 

 

USS Razorback (SS-394)

About 1/4 mile from the Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock, Arkansas where we were statying, is the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, which has a submarine, USS Razorback, and a WWII Tugboat, USS Hoga, on display.  The USS Hoga is not open for tours at this time, as they are trying to eliminate/contain the asbestos that is present on the boat.

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The USS Razorback was commissioned on April 3, 1944 and served in World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.  She received five battle stars from WWII and four from Vietnam. On November 11, 1970, the US Navy decommissioned the sub, and sold her to the Turkish Navy.  In 1971, the Turkish Navy commissioned her as TCG Muratreis, and she remained in service for the Turkish Navy until August 8, 2001.  The submarine became the longest-serving submarine in the world.    In 2002 a group of submarine veterans and the City of Little Rock began the process of acquiring the sub to bring it back to the United States and open up a museum.  Here is a view of the USS Razorback from a nearby pedestrian bridge.

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Guided tours are available, and you learn a lot about life on a submarine, both from the guide, and a small museum on the premises.  Ten officers, and 70 enlisted men served on this 311 foot long submarine.  Entry to the submarine remains the same way since 1944, right down the hatch.  And if you don’t like tight spaces, you should probably skip the tour.

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The front and back of the sub contain the torpedo areas.

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The enlisted men’s quarters.

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Shower facilities. Yes, it’s a closet without a door.  And from what our guide told us, showers were limited to one per month!

DSC05046To save space, the dining room tables had built-in board games for their entertainment.
DSC05024And the deluxe, gourmet kitchen for the cook!

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The center of the sub contained the operations area.

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The museum has a display of patches from other WWII submarines.

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The grounds of the museum contain a memorial to the fifty-two submarines that were lost during World War II, and to the men that made the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

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Quote for the day:  “When I lost my rifle, the Army charged me 85 dollars.  That is why in the Navy the Captain goes down with the ship.” – Dick Gregory