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.

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House of USA celebrates in Balboa Park!

During my walk through Balboa Park this afternoon, I observed members of the House of USA setting up for their lawn program at the International Cottages. And suddenly I remembered Independence Day is coming up on Thursday!

After walking a little more about the park, I returned to the International Cottages right at two o’clock, just in time for the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The crowd wasn’t very large, but everyone was enjoying a fine occasion. The House of USA was serving up hot dogs, and people were stepping inside their cottage to see all sorts of cultural and historical displays. Outside on the stage, Navy Band Southwest’s outstanding Prevailing Winds Ensemble was playing a mixture of classic and popular tunes. I really enjoyed their great rendition of music from The Incredibles!

I checked out a couple of booths on the lawn. The House of USA princess posed for a cool photo. I met a gentlemen promoting the Civil Air Patrol.

Over the years, Civil Air Patrol volunteers have saved thousands of lives. They’re the ones who often transport emergency supplies after a disaster, spot people trapped on rooftops during catastrophic floods, and locate hikers lost in the mountains. I learned they have a cadet program for youth interesting in aviation, personal growth and community service.

The Civil Air Patrol always needs volunteers! Click here to learn more!

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!

Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea.

A colorful new mural decorates the AV8 Apartments in Little Italy.
A colorful new mural decorates the AV8 Apartments in Little Italy.

A large, very colorful mural has appeared in Little Italy! You can find it on the east wall of the brand new AV8 Aparments, overlooking a small parking lot. The public art is titled Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea.

Artists David Leavitt and David Torres of CYRCLE created the mural, which honors the unique history of Little Italy–its many Italian and Portuguese tuna fishermen and their families, and the presence of an aviation factory years ago at this location.

Words in the mural trail an airplane, up there in the sky like the many commercial airliners today that fly over Little Italy as they approach San Diego International Airport. PRIMA DELL’ORIZZONTE is Italian for BEFORE THE HORIZON, and ALÉM DA COSTA is Portuguese for BEYOND THE COAST.

Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea, a 2018 mural by David Leavitt and David Torres, celebrates the unique history of Little Italy.
Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea, a 2018 mural by David Leavitt and David Torres of CYRCLE, celebrates the unique history of Little Italy.

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 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!

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!