The Antelope Valley is truly the birthplace of many of our nation's top aviation and aerospace vehicles. To celebrate and honor our rich aviation heritage, the City of Palmdale began work in 1996 with Air Force Plant 42 and the local aerospace companies to develop a static display airpark. The City and United States Air Force officials broke ground on the 26.4-acre site on October 20, 1998. The goal of the Airpark is to display a large collection of aircraft flown, tested, designed, or modified at Plant 42 in Palmdale.
The Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark opened to the public in November 2002 with official grand opening ceremonies held on August 6, 2004, and has since been renamed the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark at Palmdale Plant 42 in honor of Joe Davies, former commander of Plant 42, former City Councilman and current Aviation and Aerospace Commission member. The Airpark currently includes seventeen restored aircraft on display (A-4, A-7, AGM-28, B-52, C-140, C-46, F-4, F-5, F-14, F-86, F-100, F-101, F-104, F-105, T-33, T-38 and a Triumph), plus a 1/8-scale model of the B-2, and assorted engines and parts of other aircraft. In addition, an L-1011 is being readied for delivery. Our concept is to incrementally expand the Airpark westerly along the north side of Avenue P on Air Force Plant 42. Each increment will include additional displays of significant aircraft on separate platform areas. Over 40 different aircraft may be on display when the park is fully built out. Residents and students are able to view the aircraft that have contributed to our significant local history and our nation's defense. We hope that the development of this Airpark celebrates our rich aviation and aerospace heritage.
The airpark has an outstanding volunteer workforce that includes both aerospace and non-aerospace workers. Of those with aerospace background consist of mechanics, technicians, electricians, engineers and even one retired Air Force pilot. Airpark volunteers, many of whom are retired aerospace workers from our Antelope Valley, have generously and faithfully donated their time and expertise to prepare the planes for display. They search for aircraft and equipment; prepare aircraft for transportation; deliver aircraft and equipment; and refurbish each aircraft asset. This large army of eager and capable volunteers, with diverse backgrounds and expertise, working side-by-side, is the reason behind the success of our Airpark. Their collective knowledge, experience, and skill are essential for the safe and successful development of the Airpark.
Most of the restoration work is currently completed within a 3,500 square-foot restoration shop, donated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, and a temporary aircraft tent hangar. A second building measuring 15,750 square feet will eventually be used to house aerospace memorabilia exhibits. A future 5,000 square-foot visitors center will be built to house private donations accumulated by the City as well as a snack bar and gift shop.
The airpark is where the United States Air Force and local aerospace companies, in collaboration with the City of Palmdale and Airpark volunteers, work collectively to develop a place where present and future generations can go to celebrate our country's aviation history and our Antelope Valley's achievements.
Originally known as Palmdale Airport, the U.S. Army Air Corps used the airfield as a base during World War II from 1940 to 1946. Ownership was transferred to Los Angeles County in 1946 for use as a municipal airport, but the Cold War and a lack of suitable airspace in the Los Angeles basin created the need for an advanced development facility for the fledgling U.S. Air Force. In 1951, the U.S. Air Force purchased approximately 5,800 acres of land from Los Angeles County and established U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale in 1953 as the premier production flight test installation in the world.
U.S. Air Force Plant 42 is home to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, as well as the LA/Palmdale Regional Airport operated by Los Angeles World Airports, and employs thousands of aerospace workers, military personnel and civil service employees. Not only is the installation uniquely suited to fully support the nation's newest and most advanced commercial and military aerospace systems like the F-22 Nighthawk, F-35 Lightning II, B-2 Spirit and the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, the existing aerospace skills base within the Antelope Valley is second to none.