In the three years I have been writing Out and About articles, I have come across so many fascinating businesses and have met so many amazing individuals. As I entered the Western Museum of Flight, I immediately knew I would be introduced to history in a hands-on way. My eyes first glanced at the Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter and then the North American Aviation F-86 Sabre Jet and the Grumman F-14A Tomcat. What beautifully maintained aircraft.
Greeted by Cindy Macha, Director and Lynda Louden, Core Program Administrator, my eyes were fixed on the many different parts of this unique museum. We gathered in an area surrounded by books, lots of books, organized like you would see in a public library. Sitting at a quaint meeting table were two docents and museum volunteers.
Macha and Louden explained that the Western Museum of Flight is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving and displaying aircraft history and artifacts of Southern California’s aviation heritage. The Air Museum offers an inside look at completed and in-progress aircraft restoration projects. The museum’s mission statement, “The Western Museum of Flight honors and champions the Aerospace Industry Heritage of Southern California and inspires, motivates, and educates the dreamers and creators of today and tomorrow.”
In addition to the history and artifacts at the museum, I was intrigued to learn about two programs offered. The first is a monthly presentation called the Celebrity Lecture Series. The speakers are prominent aerospace figures who have unique knowledge, experience and or have attained exceptional achievement to share with audiences. The next speaker series will feature Colonel Robert Ettinger and Colonel Roy Martin, two pilots who flew missions over Hanoi and Haiphong during the war in Vietnam. They will share their harrowing experiences from the preparation, the mission briefing, the launch, and finally, pointing the noses of their aircraft to the heart of the danger zone. The lecture will begin at 11:00 a.m. on November 17th.
Macha and Louden explained, in detail, one of the other programs offered by the museum that sounds so intriguing. “In order to encourage young women and all children, the Western Museum of Flight has instituted, and continues to hone, the Kids Love Aviation Science (KLAS) program. The goal of this program is to expose the next generation to the educational and inspirational dynamics of flight, with the hope that they pursue careers in aviation science and technology,” stated Macha.
In this year-round program, students are transported at no cost to the museum from low-income communities in Los Angeles and provided Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) learning activities that cover the fundamental principles of physics, mathematics, and engineering utilized to produce modern aircraft. Additionally, trained docents provide detailed tours of the aircraft on display and discuss the impact of aviation industry in Southern California.
“The KLAS curriculum features engaging hands-on learning lessons, incorporating the use of actual aircraft materials, maps, pilot attire, and the controls of the cockpit. At the conclusion of the program, students construct their own model airplanes. Our program impacts approximately 500 students per year. With an expanding program, we aim to increase those numbers considerably each year,” commented Louden.
I often hear the words, hidden gem, when being used to describe a “favorite” place of an individual. A hidden gem is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about it. The Western Museum of Flight is definitely a hidden gem in the City of Torrance. You are encouraged to visit and view a cross section of the aerospace products, technologies, achievements and the economic benefits from the presence of the industry. The Museum is located at Torrance Airport, 3315 Airport Drive, and Red Baron #3. Please call ahead for operating hours: 310-326-9544.
The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce appreciates and values Western Museum of Flight for being members since 2006.