A new hangar at the Pima Air and Space Museum opens today for the public to view a new collection of rare aircraft.
The hangar, twice as large as the museum's other hangars at 42,000 square feet, will be the new home for five airplanes of various ages, speeds and designs.
The centerpiece of the new hangar's collection will be the PBM- 5A Mariner, said Dan Ryan, the museum's executive director. It's an amphibious aircraft used in World War II and the Korean War and is the only one left in the world, Ryan said. The others likely were destroyed or crashed in battle. This aircraft is on permanent loan to the museum from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Also included in the exhibit are the SR-71 Blackbird, one of the fastest jet planes ever made, and the test plane F-107 Ultra Sabre. Only one other F-107 exists in the world, Ryan said.
The B-18, a pre-World War II bomber, and the A-10 Warthog are among the other highlights in the new exhibit, Ryan said.
The hangar cost $3.8 million to build and was paid for by museum donations and a $1 million grant from Pima County, Ryan said. It's the museum's first new hangar in 12 years and took a year to build.
Other changes at the museum include redesigning the admissions area, relocating the gift store and moving the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame to the new hangar, Ryan said. Famous Arizonans such as Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Barry Goldwater are inducted each year for their work in the growth of aviation.
The public can view the new airplanes at the museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With the addition of the five planes, the museum's aircraft collection has grown to 300 airplanes that were flown during nearly every war involving the United States.
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