A plane lands at sunrise.

This morning at sunrise I was walking along the edge of Florida Canyon in Balboa Park when I noticed an airplane approaching San Diego International Airport.

As the FedEx cargo plane descended I captured this colorful series of photographs…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Monument in Otay Mesa to aviation pioneer Montgomery.

It seems few in San Diego know of the historically important hill in Otay Mesa West. From the top of this hill, which overlooks San Diego’s South Bay cities, aviation pioneer John J. Montgomery made the world’s first “controlled” winged glider flights in the late 19th century.

A monument to Montgomery’s achievements stands on the hilltop in the form of a vertical aircraft wing, erected in 1950. Words engraved on a black marble tablet near the wing include:

JOHN J. MONTGOMERY MADE MAN’S FIRST CONTROLLED WINGED FLIGHTS FROM THIS HILLTOP IN AUGUST 1883

HE OPENED FOR ALL MANKIND THE GREAT HIGHWAY OF THE SKY

Erected by the San Diego Junior Chamber of Commerce Montgomery Memorial Committee. Dedicated May 21, 1950

When I researched the early heavier-than-air flights of Montgomery, I noticed there’s a lot of debate about who in the world actually achieved various flying firsts. Some historians assert he made the world’s first “controlled” glider flights. Such as here. “Montgomery should be credited for the invention and demonstration of the 1st controlled glider flight, and patented hinged surfaces at the rear of the wing and a patent for the parabolic wing…

According to Wikipedia: “In the early 1880s Montgomery began studying the anatomy of a variety of large soaring birds to determine their basic characteristics, like wing area, total weight and curved surfaces. He made detailed observations of birds in flight, especially large soaring birds such as eagles, hawks, vultures and pelicans which soared on thermals near San Diego Bay…In the 1880s Montgomery…made manned flight experiments in a series of gliders in the United States in Otay Mesa near San Diego, California. Although not publicized in the 1880s, these early flights were first described by Montgomery as part of a lecture delivered at the International Conference on Aerial Navigation at Chicago, 1893. These independent advances came after gliding flights by European pioneers such as George Cayley’s coachman in England (1853) and Jean-Marie Le Bris in France (1856). Although Montgomery never claimed firsts, his gliding experiments of the 1880s are considered by some historians and organizations to have been the first controlled flights of a heavier-than-air flying machine in America or in the Western Hemisphere, depending on source.

Today, the Montgomery Memorial‘s 93-foot airplane wing juts vertically into the sky at Montgomery-Waller Community Park, which is located at the northeast corner of Coronado Avenue and Beyer Boulevard in Otay Mesa West. The silver wing is from a World War II Consolidated Aircraft B-32 Dominator heavy bomber. It’s an impressive albeit somewhat peculiar reminder of how aviation technology continues to progress.

Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego, one of the busiest airports in the United States for small aircraft, was once called Montgomery Field, named after the aviation pioneer.

When humans eventually land on Mars, and spread outward into the Solar System, it should be remembered that we made one of our first flights from a hilltop in San Diego.

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Read a book and take flight!

I love this fun street art on Aero Drive. You can find it right next to the Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa Branch Library parking lot. Painted on an electrical box is what will happen when you read a book. Your imagination will take flight!

If the library is closed and books are unavailable, your mind can take flight in a different way. Simply turn north and watch as small airplanes take off and land at nearby Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport (which is more commonly known as Montgomery Field.)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Bust of a San Diego Air Force hero.

The beautifully sculpted commemorative bust of San Diego resident, retired Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF occupies a place of honor in Balboa Park. The bust can be found in the Veterans Memorial Garden, a short walk from the entrance to the The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.

I was on hand to observe the sculpture’s unveiling almost six years ago. The ceremony was held during a Spirit of ’45 event that honored heroes of World War II. To see that inspirational blog post, click here.

I’ve decided to post photographs of the Cardenas bust today because it’s Memorial Day–one of those days when we express our gratitude to all military service members. And because I posted photos of another sculpture by the same artist a couple days ago.

San Diego sculptor Richard Becker also created Liberation, a statue at Miramar National Cemetery. That bronze sculpture remembers and honors Prisoners of War. You can see the emotionally powerful Liberation here.

Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF has a list of achievements and awards a mile long. Please read his Wikipedia page here. You’ll learn that in World War II, after he was shot down during a mission over Germany, he swam across a lake into Switzerland to escape capture, then rejoined the fight. You’ll also learn that years later, from a B-29 Superfortress that he piloted, he dropped the experimental supersonic X-1 aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier.

Behind the bust of Robert Cardenas you can see a sculpture of a B-24 Liberator bomber from World War II. It’s the plane that Robert Cardenas flew during the Second World War.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

On The Map airport mural and aviation history.

Mural visible from Harbor Drive at San Diego International Airport.
Mural visible from Harbor Drive at San Diego International Airport.

Have you wondered about the large new colorful mural that was painted last year at San Diego International Airport? You know, that mural showing a guy in an old-fashioned hat holding a steering wheel, which is visible as you head up Harbor Drive?

The title of this impressive public art is On The Map, and it’s a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego. The design was created by Jari “WERC” Alvarez, the same artist who created the SAN mural at the same location in 2014. You can see a photo of that previous mural in one of my old blog posts here.

On The Map is the second of a three mural commission, and will be on display through 2022. The map-like artwork of Jari Alvarez incorporates images that pay tribute to San Diego aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and early stunt pilot Lincoln Beachey. It also honors female flyers and engineers during the course of aviation history.

Early in the 20th century, before World War I, Glenn Curtiss operated a flying school on Coronado across San Diego Bay. His groundbreaking school was instrumental in making North Island the Birthplace of Naval Aviation.

Lincoln Beachey was a pioneer aviator and barnstormer, who broke world flying records and invented many daring aerial maneuvers. He was called by many The World’s Greatest Aviator.

You might remember that years ago the same building (now the administrative offices of the San Diego Airport Authority, once the commuter terminal) was home to a mural showing Charles Lindbergh holding a small model of his famous airplane Spirit of St. Louis. Before its historic 1927 transatlantic flight, the Spirit of St. Louis was built in San Diego by Ryan Airlines, near where the airport stands today.

San Diego’s deep links to aviation history are just another fascinating aspect of America’s Finest City!

On The Map, a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego, by muralist Jari “WERC” Alvarez.
On The Map, a tribute to the rich aviation history of San Diego, by muralist Jari “WERC” Alvarez.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Strange, bizarre cars of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Strange, bizarre vehicles are displayed by Ripley's Believe It or Not in the Interactive Zone at Petco Park during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!
Strange, bizarre vehicles are displayed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the Interactive Zone at Petco Park during 2019 San Diego Comic-Con!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not has a really great display at 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. A bunch of strange, bizarre cars can be viewed in the Interactive Zone at Petco Park in Ripley’s fun Car Lot!

It’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not’s very first time exhibiting at Comic-Con, and I hope they return in future years! I was told they have numerous very odd vehicles in their museums around the country, and even more in storage at their Orlando warehouse.

Check out these photos!

The Peel P-50 is the smallest assembly-line manufactured road-legal car ever. It's 54 inches long and goes 15 mph!
The Peel P-50 is the smallest assembly-line manufactured road-legal car ever. It’s 54 inches long and goes 15 mph!

A Mercedes Benz and fire truck coffin. Fantasy coffins are often used by the Ga people of Ghana, Africa to reflect the occupation or status of the deceased.
A Mercedes Benz and fire truck coffin. Fantasy coffins are often used by the Ga people of Ghana, Africa to reflect the occupation or status of the deceased.

A look inside the Fire Truck Fantasy Coffin.
A look inside the Fire Truck Fantasy Coffin.

This amazing, functioning Austin Mini is covered with over 10,000 Canadian pennies, each plated with 24 karat gold!
This amazing, functioning Austin Mini is covered with over 10,000 Canadian pennies, each plated with 24 karat gold!

A full-size working replica of Luke Skywalker's X-34 Landspeeder!
A full-size working replica of Luke Skywalker’s X-34 Landspeeder!

This replica of a Hummer H-3 is covered with over 39,000 lottery tickets!
This replica of a Hummer H-3 is covered with over 39,000 lottery tickets!

A closer look at the Lottery Ticket Hummer.
A closer look at the Lottery Ticket Hummer.

Bad to the Bone is a one-of-a-kind motorcycle made of animal bones from dead cows and road kill.
Bad to the Bone is a one-of-a-kind model of a motorcycle made of animal bones from dead cows and road kill.

A wood-carved Ferrari F-50 took five months to create for Venice's annual Lenten carnival.
A wood-carved Ferrari F-50 took five months to create for Venice’s annual Lenten carnival.

This cool Wooden Ferrari also functions as a boat!
This cool Wooden Ferrari also functions as a boat!

The bizarre High Heel Car has a dragster-style frame in the shape of a large high heel shoe!
The bizarre High Heel Car has a dragster-style frame in the shape of a large high heel shoe!

The Spirit of LeMons was built with a Cessna 310 fuselage!
The Spirit of LeMons was built with a Cessna 310 fuselage!

Photo of the airplane cockpit where the driver operates Spirit of LeMons.
Photo of the airplane cockpit where the driver operates Spirit of LeMons.

Another look at the Spirit of LeMons!
Another look at the Spirit of LeMons!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A visit to the Air and Space Museum Annex!

Lots of cool sights await visitors to the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex!
Lots of cool sights await visitors to the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex!

One of the coolest free attractions in San Diego is located in East County at Gillespie Field. That’s where you’ll find the annex of Balboa Park’s famous Air and Space Museum!

Yesterday morning I ventured east to El Cajon to visit the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex for the very first time. I’d read that they have a collection of old aircraft, but I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was absolutely blown away!

The annex is a treasure trove of restored and unrestored aircraft, plus old exhibits once housed by the museum in Balboa Park. Volunteers at the Gillespie Field Annex are happy to show families around. Excited kids can sit inside commercial airline cockpits, and adults can marvel at the development of aviation technology over the years.

There are so many amazing displays in the hangar and outside, it’s hard to describe. So I offer you these photos with informative captions!

If you happen to be in San Diego, go check it out for yourself! While admission to the annex is free, they’d appreciate a few bucks in their donation box!

An imposing Atlas missile stands in one corner of the annex's parking lot!
An imposing Atlas missile stands in one corner of the annex’s parking lot!

Cockpit exhibits and aircraft in various stages of restoration stand outside the museum annex hangar.
Cockpit exhibits and aircraft in various stages of restoration stand outside the museum annex hangar.

Inside the hangar there's a ton of cool stuff, including many old exhibits from the main San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
Inside the hangar there’s a ton of cool stuff, including many old exhibits from the main San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.

Replica of the Smithsonian's original Vin Fiz Flyer dangles from the ceiling. This one-of-a-kind Wright Brothers airplane was the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast. The journey took almost three months!
Replica of the Smithsonian’s original Vin Fiz Flyer dangles from the ceiling. This one-of-a-kind Wright Brothers airplane was the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast. The journey took almost three months!

Ryan X-13 experimental vertical take-off jet (VTOL) created by the Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego. This aircraft was test flown in 1955 at Edwards Air Force Base.
Ryan X-13 experimental vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet created by the Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego. This particular aircraft was test flown in 1955 at Edwards Air Force Base.

Looking past the Ryan X-13 Vertijet at other exhibits in the annex hangar, including a yellow Ryan Recruit military trainer.
Looking past the Ryan X-13 Vertijet at other exhibits in the annex hangar, including a yellow Ryan Recruit military trainer.

This particular Ryan X-13 was the result of a contract with the U.S. Air Force.
This particular Ryan X-13 was the result of a contract with the U.S. Air Force, as you can see by the markings.

Ryan ST-3KR (PT-22) Recruit, an aircraft used to train thousands of pilots during World War II.
Ryan ST-3KR (PT-22) Recruit, an aircraft used to train thousands of pilots during World War II.

In a glass display case nearby is a small model of a Ryan B-5 Brougham.
In a glass display case nearby is a small model of a Ryan B-5 Brougham. (You might recall that Charles Lindbergh’s famous Spirit of St. Louis, first plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo nonstop, was built in San Diego by Ryan.)

Numerous aircraft engines on display at the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex.
Numerous aircraft engines on display at the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex.

Wright R-3350-B Duplex-Cyclone 1939 aircraft power plant, at the time the most powerful radial engine in the world at 2000 HP.
Wright R-3350-B Duplex-Cyclone 1939 aircraft power plant, at the time the most powerful radial engine in the world at 2000 HP.

Pratt and Whitney 1830-17 Twin Wasp, used in several World War II aircraft.
Pratt and Whitney 1830-17 Twin Wasp, used in several World War II aircraft.

Wright J65 turbojet engine, 1954. This engine powered many military aircraft in the mid 20th century, including the very successful A-4 Skyhawk.
Wright J65 turbojet engine, 1954. This engine powered many military aircraft in the mid 20th century, including the very successful A-4 Skyhawk.

Marquardt RJ43-MA-9 ramjet engine used on Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc interceptor missiles during the 1960s. The ramjet produced speeds up to Mach 2.7, or about 1780 miles per hour.
Marquardt RJ43-MA-9 ramjet engine used on Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc interceptor missiles during the 1960s. The ramjet produced speeds up to Mach 2.7, or about 1780 miles per hour.

Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-401 vectoring turbofan that powers the AV-8A Harrier short take-off and vertical landing aircraft.
Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-401 vectoring turbofan that powers the AV-8A Harrier short take-off and vertical landing aircraft.

A long mural in the annex's hangar shows a variety of modern aircraft.
A long mural in the annex’s hangar shows a variety of modern aircraft.

Bleriot XI dangles from the ceiling. The revolutionary 1908 aircraft had a new Anzani engine that could run for one whole hour, allowing it to fly across the English Channel.
Bleriot XI dangles from the ceiling. The revolutionary 1908 aircraft had a new Anzani engine that could run for one whole hour, allowing it to fly across the English Channel.

Sopwith Pup Craftsmen of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a volunteer aircraft building project back in 2000-2003.
Sopwith Pup Craftsmen of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a volunteer aircraft building project back in 2000-2003.

Rearwin Cloudster 8135, once displayed on the museum floor in Balboa Park.
Rearwin Cloudster 8135, once displayed on the museum floor in Balboa Park.

One more look inside the hangar before I head outside to see lots more cool stuff.
One more look inside the hangar before I head outside to see lots more cool stuff.

The aircraft in the foreground is a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Mounted beyond it is a Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bug jet-powered reconnaissance drone.
The aircraft in the foreground is a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Mounted beyond it is a Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bug jet-powered reconnaissance drone.

Outside the hangar doors is the nose of an old Northwest Stratocruiser that once flew to Honolulu.
Outside the hangar doors is the nose of an old Northwest Stratocruiser that once flew to Honolulu.

Hundreds of switches and gauges inside the amazing cockpit of a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. One can sit in the pilot's seat and pretend to fly across the Pacific Ocean!
Hundreds of switches, dials and gauges inside the amazing cockpit of a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. One can sit in the pilot’s seat and pretend to fly across the Pacific Ocean!

Someone created this silly flying car named the Spirit of San Diego!
Someone created this silly flying car named the Spirit of San Diego! I kind of doubt they ever got this contraption off the ground.

Looking beyond a General Dynamics F-16N at a line of military aircraft displayed outside.
Looking beyond a General Dynamics F-16N at a line of military aircraft displayed outside.

North American F-86F Sabre from the Korean War period.
North American F-86F Sabre from the Korean War period.

Convair F-102A Delta Dagger built in San Diego 1956-1957.
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger built in San Diego 1956-1957.

An old Neptune Aviation Services P2V-7 aerial firefighting plane--Tanker 43.
An old Neptune Aviation Services P2V-7 aerial firefighting plane–Tanker 43.

I learned there are several restoration projects now underway at the museum annex at Gillespie Field. I believe this is an old Piasecki H-21 helicopter.
I learned there are several restoration projects now underway at the museum annex at Gillespie Field. I believe this is an old Piasecki H-21 helicopter. Looks like it needs some work.

Next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex parking lot stands a tall Atlas Missile 2-E! This missile was used for a static firing at Sycamore Test Facility.
Next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex parking lot stands a tall Atlas Missile 2-E! This missile was used for a static firing at Sycamore Canyon Test Facility east of MCAS Miramar. It used to stand at the entrance to Missile Park, beside the old General Dynamics complex in Kearny Mesa.

National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark Atlas Space Booster Family - San Diego, California - 1957. Developed by General Dynamics Convair and the U.S. Air Force.
National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark Atlas Space Booster Family – San Diego, California – 1957. Developed by General Dynamics Convair and the U.S. Air Force.

Visit the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex and you'll learn much about aviation history!
Visit the free San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex and you’ll learn a whole lot about aviation history!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A walk from Middletown to Broadway Pier.

Part of a long mural on the back of a building behind the Park 'N Fly Lot 1 on Pacific Highway.
Part of a cool mural on a building behind the Park ‘N Fly Lot 1 on Pacific Highway.

Today I got off from work a little early, so I decided to use my extra time for a walk from the Middletown trolley station down to the Embarcadero.

My main intention was to get photographs of a long mural I’ve glimpsed while driving along Pacific Highway near San Diego International Airport. The mural is a fair distance from the street, on the back of an old building behind the Park ‘N Fly Lot 1.

I snapped some photos of the cool mural, but as you can see, the results were not all that great. After doing some internet searching, I still know nothing about this artwork.

My walk turned west on Laurel Street as a series of airplanes came in for landings overhead. My eyes moved right and left searching for interesting sights, but nothing struck my fancy until I came to the big white anchor in the grassy median at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.

I vaguely recall learning something about this historical anchor–where it came from–but now when I do some searching I come up with nothing. The big anchor has been a landmark occupying that spot for as long as I can remember.

My leisurely walk south along the Embarcadero stalled when I came to the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I’m a member, so naturally I had to enjoy the elegant passenger deck of the steam ferry Berkeley to do some quiet reading. When I noticed through a window that the sun was about to slip behind clouds, I ventured outside and took more photos.

The photograph of Sea Shepherd’s vessel Farley Mowat reminds me that I blogged about their mission to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise a couple years ago.

My walk then resumed, and I proceeded along the water to Broadway Pier.

The extensive mural on the building is blocked by parked cars and too distant from the street for a good photograph.
The long mural near Pacific Highway is blocked by parked cars and too distant from the sidewalk for a good photograph.

An airplane comes in for a landing at San Diego International Airport near the intersection of Pacific Highway and Laurel Street.
An airplane comes in for a landing at San Diego International Airport near the intersection of Pacific Highway and Laurel Street.

Here comes another plane for a late afternoon arrival.
Here comes another plane for a late afternoon arrival.

A plane lands at San Diego International Airport, just beyond a large white anchor at Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.
A plane lands at San Diego International Airport, just beyond the large white anchor at Harbor Drive and Laurel Street.

A closer photo of the historical anchor.
A close photo of the anchor. If I obtain more information about its history, I’ll post an update.

Circling the big anchor, my camera captured the skyline of downtown San Diego.
After I circled the big anchor, my camera captured the skyline of downtown San Diego.

Now I'm on the Embarcadero by the water, in the Crescent Area that I visited in my last blog post.
Now I’m on the Embarcadero by the water, in the Crescent Area that I visited in my last blog post.

Photo from the Steam Ferry Berkeley of Farley Mowat which is now docked in San Diego. Sea Shepherd's vessel will soon return to the Sea of Cortez to protect the vaquita.
Photo from the steam ferry Berkeley of the Farley Mowat, which is presently docked in San Diego. Sea Shepherd’s vessel will soon return to the Sea of Cortez to resume its urgent mission protecting the critically endangered vaquita.

The sun is still shining on the floating barge behind the Berkeley.
The sun is still shining on the floating barge behind the Berkeley.

People enjoy a look inside the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.
People enjoy exploring the Spanish galleon replica San Salvador.

The sun shines out from behind clouds, and the masts of America, Californian and San Salvador.
The sun shines out from behind clouds . . . and the masts of America, Californian and San Salvador.

People relax on one of the benches along the edge of Broadway Pier. The fog-like marine layer is coming in over Point Loma as nightfall approaches.
People relax on one of the benches along the edge of Broadway Pier. The fog-like marine layer is coming in over Point Loma as nightfall approaches.

Spirit of San Diego is coming in from a harbor cruise.
Spirit of San Diego is coming in from a harbor cruise.

Piloting the incoming ship, with the USS Midway Museum in the background.
Piloting the incoming ship, with the USS Midway Museum in the background.

Downtown buildings reflected in windows of the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.
Downtown buildings reflected in windows of the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier.

Late sunlight shines from beautiful high-rise buildings in downtown San Diego.
Late sunlight shines from high-rise buildings in beautiful downtown San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A visit to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum.

Douglas F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray.
Douglas F4D-1 (F-6A) Skyray.

I often drive down Miramar Road past the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. When I do, I usually turn my head to see if any people are outside investigating the dozens of unique military aircraft that are on display. Few people seem to visit.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, located at MCAS Miramar, is open free to the general public. It features all sorts of airplanes and helicopters that have been used by the United State Marine Corps over the decades.

When I first visited the museum last year, I was floored by the extent of its collection. While many of the aircraft might not be restored to pristine condition, they each represent a fascinating era in U. S. military history. Visitors to the museum can also see other equipment that has been used by the Marines, including tanks and artillery pieces.

Most impressively, the museum owns the actual helicopter that was last to leave Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. That Sea Knight helicopter’s call sign was Lady Ace 09. If you’d like to see photographs of Lady Ace 09, and learn a bit more about that moment in history, click here.

The following photos depict just a fraction of what you’ll discover at the museum.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum seems to be a little known gem in San Diego. Those who are interested in 20th century history, aviation or the United States Marine Corps should definitely swing on by!

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, open free to the public, is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, open free to the public, is located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Inside the museum, a variety of exhibits detail different modern aircraft that have been used by the United States Marine Corps.
Inside the museum, a variety of exhibits detail different aircraft that have been used by the United States Marine Corps.

Dozens of historical Marine aircraft can be viewed outdoors at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego.
Dozens of historical Marine aircraft can be viewed outdoors at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in San Diego.

Beechcraft T-34B Mentor.
Beechcraft T-34B Mentor.

General Motors FM-2 Wildcat.
General Motors FM-2 Wildcat.

Northrup F-5E Tiger II.
Northrup F-5E Tiger II.

Grumman F9F-2 Panther.
Grumman F9F-2 Panther.

Hawker-Siddeley AV-8A(C) Harrier.
Hawker-Siddeley AV-8A(C) Harrier.

Bell AH-1J SeaCobra.
Bell AH-1J SeaCobra.

Sikorsky HUS-1 (UH-34D) Seahorse.
Sikorsky HUS-1 (UH-34D) Seahorse.

Bell 214ST.
Bell 214ST.

McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II.
McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II.

Visitors to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum learn about the history of one airplane in their large and fascinating collection.
Visitors to the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum learn about the history of one airplane in a very large and fascinating collection.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Photos of historic centennial U.S. Air Mail flight!

A vintage biplane is almost ready to embark on an historic flight.
A vintage biplane is almost ready to embark on an historic flight.

Today I witnessed a bit of history. I headed to the Allen Airways Flying Museum at Gillespie Field to watch three vintage Stearman Speedmail biplanes take off on the first leg of the old Contract Air Mail 8 (CAM 8) route.

The very special six-day event marks the centennial of United States Air Mail service, which began on May 15,1918 with a flight from Washington D.C. to New York. Today’s flight, endorsed by the U.S. Postal Service, was the beginning of a 1200 mile journey up the West Coast that will include 12 stops, finally ending at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

Many hobbyists, pilots and history enthusiasts were on hand to see the trio of vintage biplanes begin their commemorative flight. I read that only seven Stearman Speedmail airplanes survive today; 41 were originally built to transport the U.S. Mail by air.

As the planes taxied down the runway for takeoff, a friendly gentleman provided me with a little more history. I learned the original CAM 8 route up the West Coast took about two days, depending on the weather and the wind. He explained how the highly dependable Stearman Speedmail planes have a powerful 450-horsepower engine, and we observed how they took to the air very quickly. In the early days of aviation, before modern airports with lengthy runways, this was a requirement.

I also learned that many other owners of vintage aircraft flew in for today’s event, parking their colorful planes outside the Allen Airways Flying Museum. The museum itself is home to a variety of cool, historical aircraft, and welcomes visitors by appointment.

Here come some photos!

One of three Stearman Speedmail biplanes which will fly from San Diego to Seattle to commemorate the centennial of U.S. Air Mail service.
One of three Stearman Speedmail biplanes which will fly from San Diego to Seattle to commemorate the centennial of U.S. Air Mail service.

Mail collected at a USPS table is put into a canvas airmail bag. Each piece will be postmarked at the 12 stops along the 1200 mile flight.
Special mail collected at a USPS table is put into a canvas airmail bag. Each piece will be postmarked at the 12 stops along the 1200 mile flight.

The City of El Cajon issued a proclamation to mark the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail Service.
The City of El Cajon issued a proclamation to mark the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail Service.

A Ford U.S. Air Mail truck was on display during the event, courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
A vintage Ford U.S. Air Mail truck was on display during the event, courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Loading a sack of official U.S. Mail into a cockpit of one Stearman Speedmail biplane.
Loading a sack of official U.S. Mail into the front of one Stearman Speedmail biplane.

Another plane participating in the event awaits nearby.
Another plane participating in the event waits nearby.

People roll the biplane off the grass so that it can taxi away from the Allen Airways Flying Museum.
People roll the biplane off the grass so that it can taxi away from the Allen Airways Flying Museum.

These two planes are ready to safely head out onto the Gillespie Field runway.
These two planes are ready to safely head out onto the Gillespie Field runway.

It's almost 11:45, the time the three planes will start their U.S. Air Mail centennial celebration flight.
It’s almost 11:45, the time the three planes will start their U.S. Air Mail centennial celebration flight.

The first Stearman Speedmail biplane taxis out onto the runway.
The first Stearman Speedmail biplane taxis out onto the runway.

It slowly heads down the runway to prepare for takeoff.
It slowly heads down the runway to prepare for takeoff.

The second Stearman Speedmail aircraft follows.
The second Stearman Speedmail aircraft follows.

And here comes the third. An historic flight will soon begin!
And here comes the third. An historic flight will soon begin!

The trio of vintage biplanes heads down to the end of the airport's runway.
The trio of vintage biplanes heads down to the end of the airport’s runway.

People watch as the Air Mail centennial celebration flight begins in San Diego!
People watch as the Air Mail centennial celebration flight begins in San Diego!

A vintage biplane plane flies north, beginning a 12-stop 1200-mile flight that retraces the Contract Mail 8 (CAM 8) air mail route.
A vintage biplane flies north, beginning a 12-stop 1200-mile flight that retraces the Contract Mail 8 (CAM 8) air mail route.

A wonderful day in El Cajon, and a bit of history, too!
Today many enjoyed a fun celebration of American history at Gillespie Field in El Cajon!

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