California Museums

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Flight Path Learning Center Museum, Los Angeles

Flight Path Learning Center Museum, LAX Imperial Terminal, located at 6661 W. Imperial Highway, Los Angeles, Ca. Cost: Free. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking is Free. Telephone: (424) 646-7284. flightpath.us

Don't throw away that old luggage. It might be a collectible one day.

A museum in Los Angeles that sits on the edge of the Los Angeles International Airport, Flight Path Learning-Center Museum, has an exhibit of sturdy luggage that traveled the globe with the travel stickers from the orange crate - art era, to prove it. Today if you fly, you'll be charged for even a suitcase, save for a few hold-outs such as Southwest Airlines. But there was a time that traveling with heavy, sturdy luggage was expected, and anything light or flimsy was considered vagabond luggage not fit for a modern jet and luxury travel. How times have changed!

And that's exactly why it is worth a visit to the free admission museum dedicated to air travel. Just minutes from most LAX terminals, you can take a taxi over to the museum and look around and explore if you have a few hours of time on your hands between flights, or are visiting the area.

Southern California grew as the epi-center of aviation and its history goes back over 100 years. But the flight path museum includes many contemporary collections dating back to the 50s and 60s. Stewardess outfits with psychedelic go-go skirts and hats worn by Air California "stewardesses", fine china service used in 1st class seating on TWA flights, magazines, kids plastic pilot lapel pins from now defunct airlines, and amazing displays of planes, clothes, pictures, magazines, and even a research library are housed at the unique, must-see museum. If you retired from an airline, you won't want to miss visiting this museum. It brings back nostalgia to many who served the industry and have seen the companies disappear.

The William A. Schoneberger Research Library is open during regular Flight Path operating hours. Researchers should call in advance to confirm that desired materials and staff assistance are available. Materials may not be taken from the Library. However, limited copying of certain materials is available on site under staff supervision.

Exhibits: Main Gallery includes models, photographs, uniforms and other artifacts highlighting the role of airlines, aircraft manufacturers, aerospace companies, and the airport in the history of Southern California. A large-scale model of the last of aviation's famous biplanes is on permanent public display in the Flight Path Learning Center Museum at Los Angeles International Airport. The Curtiss P-6E Hawk, modeled on a US Army Air Corps aircraft manufactured in the early 1930s, is believed to be the only one its kind at any museum in Southern California.

The Hawk was built from scratch and donated by Chester M. Schmidt of Westchester, a retired Lockheed engineer. It features an impressive 6-foot, double-deck wingspan and authentic Army Air Corps colors, including a black, gray and white fuselage, and yellow wings. The model, with a working engine, has been flown by remote control at hobbyist events.

The original Hawk was the backbone of Army Air Corps pursuit squadrons, according to Flight Path President Rowena Ake. Powered by a Conqueror V-12 liquid-cooled engine, it also achieved distinction as a formidable competitor in air races.

The museum also features a panoramic mural saluting the 75th anniversary of LAX and Los Angeles World Airports as well as the Centennial of Flight. Other exhibits showcase development of airlines, aircraft and aviation firms.

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