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(Tony Reichhardt)

History in Flight

Rare warbirds star in a California airshow

With more than 100 historic aircraft, the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California, exhibits one of the most significant collections of airplanes in the country. This weekend the exhibits will come to life as the museum stages its annual airshow. Nearly 30 “planes of fame,” as well as aircraft from neighbors and nearby museums, will fly on May 15 and 16 in what one Air & Spacewriter once called “the world’s most spectacular aerial display of rare warbirds from all generations.” How rare? The museum owns the only original, airworthy Japanese Zero fighter and one of the few Russian-built MiG-15s flying anywhere. The MiG (above right) will perform with the museum’s North American F-86 Sabre in a tribute to the veterans of the Korean War, the conflict that pitted the two aircraft against each other.

The museum owns a second MiG-15 and two MiG-17s, so that, according to founder Ed Maloney, if another museum needs a pair of MiGs and has aircraft to trade, the Planes of Fame Museum may be interested. “We also have a MiG-21F, but it won’t fly this weekend,” says Maloney. “It’s too fast for our airport.”

Click through the gallery below to see more aircraft that will be flying this weekend.

A6M5

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(Frank Mormillo/ Planes of Fame Museum)

Ed Maloney bought the Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero fighter, the only flying A6M5 with the original Nakajima Sakae 31 engine, from a scrap dealer in the 1950s. It was one of a group of aircraft captured by U.S. forces in the Pacific in June 1944. Maloney also acquired an aircraft logbook from the Navy, which brought the Zero back to the States and flew it in a series of tests at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. One of the logbook entries, dated October 1944, was made by Charles Lindbergh.

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