The Museum’s L-3 “Grasshopper” was built in 1943 for the Army Air Corps, and the type was used as an observation and liaison aircraft during World War II. Following the war, it was acquired by civilian owners and deeded to the Museum in 2011. It is currently undergoing a complete restoration at Gillespie Field, having been taken down to the last part. When completed in 2022, the aircraft will be certified for flight and become the first Museum aircraft to take wing since the Spirit of St Louis did so in 2003.
The Racer was designed and built in 1935 by Howard Hughes and Glen Odekirk for the specific purpose of capturing the land-based speed record, which it did flashing through the timers at 352 miles per hour. Hughes pioneered the use of flush rivets and butt-joined aluminum panels to minimize parasitic drag on the airframe. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1535 “Twin Wasp Jr.” the aircraft was ultimately fitted with a lengthened wing allowing the aircraft to operate at higher altitudes and establish a transcontinental speed record, spanning the distance from Long Beach, California to Newark, New Jersey, in only seven hours and 28 minutes. Completion of this project is scheduled for 2024.
The Museum’s long-term plan has been to return its reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer on display. Damaged several years ago, the Flyer was taken to Gillespie Field where restoration commenced and quickly ended with the onset of the pandemic. Work recently began anew and will continue at the Museum’s Gillespie site. The Museum anticipates completion in February 2024, where it will be hung in the rotunda of the main site in Balboa Park.
The Air and Space Museum is constructing an exact reproduction of the Bell X-1, which is projected to be finished in 2013. This is a very important project to the Museum, as there is only one original Bell X-1 in the world, currently located at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Built in 1927, the Museum’s FB-5 came to us a donation, consisting of a few miscellaneous parts, an engine shell and a cooling radiator. The remainder of the aircraft components have been created by our volunteers in the restoration and machine shops at Gillespie Field and Balboa Park. Completed in 2022, this very rare fighter is displayed at the Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex. It takes its place as one of the dozen or so built from scratch (virtually) aircraft in the collection.
The Curtiss Jenny fuselage has been re-covered and is in the final stages of paint preparation at Gillespie Field. Once begun, the project will take some time due to the complexity of painting the various markings on the wings and fuselage.