This Saturday, May 4, 2024, from 1o:00 AM to 12:00 PM, sit in the cockpit of the P-47 Thunderbolt at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Considered by many the most significant fighter aircraft of World War II, the Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt fighter was the largest and most powerful single-engine fighter of the war. Production topped any other Allied fighter with 15,683 P-47s produced. Due to the shape of the fuselage, the Thunderbolt was known affectionately as the “Jug” by its pilots and ground crews. Two distinctive versions were produced: The earlier “Razorback” design and later versions with a “bubble top” canopy. The Museum’s Thunderbolt is from the Robert J. Pond collection and has been restored to flying condition. It displays the nose art “Squirt VIII.”

The Museum's Thunderbolt is from the Robert J. Pond collection and has been restored to flying condition. It displays the nose art "Squirt VIII

The was constructed as a P-47D-40-RA by Republic at Evansville, Indiana. In 1945 it was transferred to Oklahoma Air Material Area, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma City, OK. Contracted to TEMCO Aircraft Corporation, Hensley, Grand Prairie, TX for work on the airframe. In 1947 this Thunderbolt was taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Air Force with s/n 45-49205. In 1948 it was redesignated as F-47D and transferred to 1708th Ferrying Group, Military Air Transport Service, Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX. until 1953 when it was taken on Strength/Charge with the Fuerza Aerea del Peru with s/n 547 as well as 122 FAPe In 1969 it was acquired by  Vintage Aircraft International Ltd/Ed Jurist, Nyack, NY with new c/r N47DE. The Thunderbolt was transported by ship back to the U.S. and it arrived at Brownsville, TX, on SS Rosaldina. The aircraft was reassembled by  the back-then Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force) in Harlingen, TX.  Thunderbolt 45-49205 eventually flew once again in 1973. In the last forty years, the aircraft changed several owners, including David C. Tallichet, Douglas W. Arnold ( in the UK), Stephen Grey, back in the U.S. under Robert J. Pond until it was donated to the the Palm Springs Air Museum/Pond Warbirds Llc in 1997.

Museum guests are treated to the extra special experience of being allowed to sit at the controls and pose for pictures. From 10:00-12:00 each Saturday, a selected aircraft will be opened up and made accessible to the public. Museum Volunteers will also be on hand to answer questions and provide the historical backdrop for the aircraft you are sitting in. Guests are strongly cautioned to dress appropriately for climbing into the planes and also reminded not to leave their cameras at home. This is a rare experience that you’ll want to remember forever. The suggested $5 donation for the open cockpit experience includes a souvenir Air Museum-provided photograph. Air Museum admission also applies. The Palm Springs Air Museum reserves the right to refuse access to anyone deemed to be a hazard to themselves, other guests/staff, and/ or the aircraft.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to a large collection of flyable WWII aircraft. It’s equipped with air-conditioned hangars, several exhibits, and an extensive library located on the 2nd floor. The museum is open seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Allow at least an hour and a half to enjoy the museum. Closed for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information, visit www.palmspringsairmuseum.org