Pima Air and Space Museum has always been a popular family-friendly attraction in Tucson. But now, the museum is receiving even more foot traffic from families, thanks to a new exhibit called "See the Real Planes in Disney's Planes."
From now until July 2014, the museum will be featuring the aircraft that inspired the hit animated movie. Visitors will be able to view the real planes behind characters like Dusty Crophopper, which was modeled after Cessna's Air Tractor AT-502 and the PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromader.
Kids will also enjoy seeing the real-life Leadbottom, which is based on a PT-17 Sterman Biplane. Also on display are a F4U Corsair and P51-Mustang - World War II planes that inspired the characters of Skipper and Ripslinger, respectively.
This Pima Air and Space Museum exhibit features the aircraft that were the inspiration for Disney's "Planes" — Photo courtesy of Pima Air and Space Museum
According to museum staff, the most popular plane in the display is the F-18 fighter plane. It's the inspiration for Echo and Bravo in the movie. The plane was donated by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels squadron. Twelve other planes in the exhibit served as inspiration for characters in the film, many of which were donated to the museum by the military.
Not surprisingly, the Disney-inspired exhibit is attracting many younger visitors. Pima Air and Space Museum expects even more interest when the sequel to Planes comes out later this year. Visitors are encouraged to request a comparison sheet at the front desk to help spot the similarities between the cartoon planes and the real McCoys.
Families paying a visit to the museum will also want to explore the rest of the grounds, which include more than 300 historically significant aircraft and spacecraft. The vast collection includes planes from the United States and around the world.
The museum offers several guided tours of the grounds, including a popular tram tour that's just over an hour. The tour is narrated by experienced docents, many of which share personal stories of service associated with the aircraft on display. Tram tour tickets are available for an additional $6 per person. Tours depart three times daily.
Visitors are also invited to join one of the daily 50-minute guided walking tours of indoor exhibits. These are free with admission. The daily tours include the Hangar 1 Guided Tour and World War II Aviation Guided Tour. Keep in mind that some of these tours are offered seasonally, so be sure to contact the museum before your visit.
True aviation fanatics will want to plan ahead and schedule a tour of the "Boneyard," officially known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance Regeneration Group (AMARG). It's a fascinating aircraft graveyard. Because the Boneyard is located on part of an Air Force Base, tours are only available Monday through Friday.
For more information on this and other tours, contact Pima Air and Space Museum.