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Recently visited your museum with my wife (who had been married to an ex F-100 pilot) and my thirteen year old grandson. Your museum is...
Magnificent collection of Warbirds. Impressive restoration projects. Nice atmosphere. Came to see the PoF museum which is next door but never knew that the Yanks...
Where it all began...
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President. The family gathered around and “watched” the radio to hear the day’s news. The milkman delivered our milk in bottles to the door. We played marbles at school and Cowboys and Indians at home. We made sling shots and went to “The Plunge”. A Coca-Cola cost a nickel and we put peanuts in it. We played the "boogie woogie" and traded Superman and Flash Gordon comic books. We dared to climb the water tower at school and never got caught.
Sometimes we could see the P-38 Lightning’s practice “dog-fights” over the house. At the Saturday “25 cent picture show” the intermissions played clips and propaganda about the world-wide struggle. We were at war. Gas and meat were rationed. Everyone and anyone who could help or provide a scrap of metal, particularly aluminum pots and pans or rubber for the new planes, tanks, ships and vehicles did so. We kids helped too by saving gum and cigarette wrappers to make a giant aluminum ball. There were 105,000 people at the LA Coliseum “war games”, we all lit a match, everyone smoked then.
As a young boy “Nichols” was proud of his relatives involved in the war effort. They wore leather flight jackets and told stories of their harrowing experiences. America was united and morale was unwavering. We were a nation focused. The images of our servicemen and women and the devotion of a country sparked a love of American history, of flight and of machine. It was a proud time and it inspired a dream.
Although the collection began in 1972, Yanks’ was founded in 1982 by Mr. and Mrs. Nichols. The Nichols originally sought to acquire only three exceptional aircraft, the P-40 Warhawk, the Beech Staggerwing and the Stearman trainer. Purchased in 1973 the first aircraft of the collection was the Beech Staggerwing.
Inspired by a desire to preserve an important part of our nation’s history, the Nichols’ pursued a diligent program of aircraft acquisition. Only the most rare and historic aircraft and parts were acquired. The quest for these aircraft took them around the world and back again. The Nichols’ were unyielding in the quality and authenticity of the aircraft restorations and found it necessary to develop their own restoration facility and staff. Many of the staff originally were talented machinists, mechanics and pilots from WWII. This allowed close scrutiny and control over the entire restoration process. Today, although the work has largely passed on to a new and dedicated generation, all aircraft continue to be restored to airworthy condition and to the original manufacturer’s specifications.
Even now, the Nichols’ still travel and collect, ever strengthening their resolve to restore and preserve American aircraft, their history and artifacts. The Nichols met and dealt with some of the most prominent icons in the aviation community to ensure the accuracy of each restoration. In the early years only true aviation enthusiasts were allowed into the museum, which was at that time more of a storage facility.
Now after more than four decades of public interest along with visitors from Japan, Australia, Germany, England and France, and of course America, the secret museum is no longer! The Yanks Air Museum preserves a collection of America’s aviation and aerospace legacy numbering more than 170 aircraft and has become one of the most prominent private aircraft collections in the world.