Military Aviation Museum

The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is home to one of the world's largest collections of warbirds in flying condition. It includes examples from Germany, France, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, from both World War I and World War II, although the complete collection ranges from the 1910s to the early 1950s.

Military Aviation Museum
US Air Force hangar and main building
Military Aviation Museum is located in Virginia
Military Aviation Museum
Location within Virginia
Established2005 (Opened to the Public in 2008)
LocationVirginia Beach Airport, Virginia Beach, Virginia
1341 Princess Anne Road
Coordinates36°40′44″N 76°01′41″W / 36.6788°N 76.0281°W / 36.6788; -76.0281Coordinates: 36°40′44″N 76°01′41″W / 36.6788°N 76.0281°W / 36.6788; -76.0281
TypeAviation museum
Collection sizeOver 70 vintage airplanes
Visitors>80,000 (2019)
FounderGerald "Jerry" Yagen
DirectorKeegan Chetwynd

Its mission is to "preserve, restore and fly these historic aircraft and to allow a new generation to experience and learn from what [their forebears] might have endured ... in the skies so very far from home."[1]

Unlike most other collections, which are displayed in a static museum environment, almost all of the historic aircraft at the Museum have been restored to flying condition. In twice-yearly major airshows (one in the spring for World War II planes,[2] and one in the fall for WWI),[3] as well as other special events, the aircraft fly again for the public to view and experience.

The collection also includes a large reference library, along with artifacts and materials to illustrate the historic context of the aircraft in the collection.[4]


The Museum was founded by Gerald "Jerry" Yagen in 2005, and the museum's hangars were opened to the public in 2008. He had been collecting and restoring warbirds since the mid-1990s, starting with the Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk, so the creation of a museum to share the collection with the public was the logical next step. [5]

Difficulties in 2013Edit

In June 2013 it was reported that the museum and its collection of planes was to be sold off, due to some financial difficulties which Yagen's business was then experiencing. He was selling his vocational schools business, and no longer had the resources to finance the Museum.[6]

An article in The Virginian-Pilot reported that Yagen had said "I'm subsidizing it heavily every year and my business no longer allows me to do that financially, and therefore I don't have a solution for it".[7]

However, the announced sale of the museum and aircraft was premature; it was announced only a week later that "the museum won't close soon, some of the facility's planes ... may have to go to keep the operation aloft" and "'we are still open for business and business is normal'".[8]

Several aircraft were sold, see below, but both Yagen's businesses and the museum are now operating normally.[9] Since the sales in 2013, additional aircraft (including a projected replacement de Havilland Dragon Rapide) have been acquired and are under restoration to fly.


The museum is housed at its own small private grass airfield, the Virginia Beach Airport, in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The complex includes two display hangars (one on each side of the main museum building) in one group of buildings, and in another group, a replica World War I-era wooden hangar, a maintenance hangar (entirely new, but an exact replica of a 1937 Works Progress Administration design), a restored authentic pre-WWII Luftwaffe metal hangar, and a set of three identical storage hangars painted to resemble British World War II hangars.[10][11][12]

Restored original Luftwaffe hangar

The Luftwaffe hangar was built in 1934 at Cottbus Air Base; after the base was closed during the re-unification of Germany, the Museum obtained the hangar in 2004. It was dismantled and shipped to Virginia Beach and construction started in 2010 and finished in fall of 2012 at the Museum where it now houses the Museum's Luftwaffe aircraft.[13][14][15]

Also underway is a control tower, a re-erection of a genuine ex-8th AAF World War II tower from RAF Goxhill. A two-story brick and concrete structure, built to Air Ministry drawing 518/40, it was completely disassembled, labeled and shipped to Virginia. It is currently being assembled at the Museum's airfield where it will be used as an operational tower. In the UK, some similar towers are now historically protected; when rebuilt, this will be the only such original control tower in the US.[16][17]

The complex also includes a large orange and white checked water tower, which is visible from a considerable distance and provides a useful landmark for both ground and air travelers.

At the entrance to museum there is also a large dinosaur park, which is free to walk around.

Restorations and ReproductionsEdit

Some of the aircraft obtained in an un-restored state are handled at the museum's related repair facility, the Fighter Factory (below); others are restored elsewhere, by contractors with specialized capabilities, including:

  • Meier Motors
  • AV Specs Limited
  • Pioneer Aero

The Museum is also connected to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which is currently building a small fleet of various World War I replicas, as an exercise for the students, to add to the Museum's collection. The current batch includes a Morane Saulnier AI,[18] a Nieuport 11, a Nieuport 17, a Nieuport 24, a Sopwith Pup, a Sopwith Camel, a Sopwith 1½ Strutter, and a deHavilland D.H.2.[19][20] Both the Morane Saulnier AI and the Sopwith 1½ Strutter have arrived at the museum.

The Fighter FactoryEdit

Fighter Factory facility in the maintenance hangar at the museum

Associated with the museum is an aircraft restoration and maintenance organization, called The Fighter Factory, started in 1996 to restore the collection's first aircraft (the P-40E).[5]

It was originally located at Norfolk Airport, and later moved to premises at the Suffolk Municipal Airport in Suffolk, Virginia. It currently operates two facilities: the one in Suffolk, and a new facility (in the purpose-built hangar) at the museum.[15][21]

Visitors to the museum can take a guided tour of the Fighter Factory hangar during weekdays, and view the team of maintenance technicians performing tasks such as regular maintenance and minor restoration work.

Airplane RidesEdit

The museum offers guests the opportunity to fly in either the Waco YMF-5 or the Stearman N2S-3. Both of the aircraft are open cockpit biplanes.[citation needed]

Aircraft on displayEdit

Pioneer Era Aircraft (1903-1914)Edit



  • Blériot XI – (currently not on display) Replica. This one is a single seat model that is currently not airworthy[25][26]
  • Blériot XI – Replica. The museum also owns a second Blériot XI that is a two-seat model. It arrived in July, 2015 and had its first flight September 15, 2016.[27]

World War I AircraftEdit

Replica World War I hangar at the museum

(All are replicas except for the Curtiss Jenny and the Thomas Morse)


  • Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" – The Museum's Jenny (s/n 34135) is an original, built by the St. Louis Aircraft Company of St. Louis, completed on 8 May 1918, and delivered to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Some time later, it passed into civilian hands, and then went through numerous owners (including being in storage from 1935-1957, prior to a restoration), finally being acquired by the Museum in 2013. It arrived at the museum in the Spring of 2014.[28][29]
  • Thomas Morse S-4C Scout – The Museum's example (s/n 38663) was built in 1917, but never left the states. It was restored in Kingsbury, Texas and arrived to the museum in April, 2019.[30][better source needed]



  • Morane-Saulnier AI – (Under restoration in Fighter Factory) Replica. Built by the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (Kansas City). It arrived at the museum in October, 2015 and was found that it needed some additional restoration before it will be added to display in the collection. That restoration is currently underway.[42]
  • Nieuport 11 – (Currently not on display) Replica. Arrived at the museum in July 2010.[43][44][45]
  • Nieuport 17 – Replica[44]
  • Nieuport 28 – Replica. Put on display December, 2019.
  • S.P.A.D. S.XIII – Replica- 2004 (Now hanging on the ceiling of the WWI hangar)[46][47][48][49]


Inter-War aircraftEdit


  • Fleet 2 – The Museum's fleet (s/n 229) was built in 1929. Sources claim that Amelia Earhart flew in this aircraft, but this has yet to be confirmed as the logbooks have not been found. It was acquired by the museum in 1996 and was restored in Kingsbury, Texas, arriving to the museum in 2021.[63]
  • P-26D Peashooter – The Museum's P-26 (s/n 32-06) is a replica, built in Bolton, Massachusetts, and completed in 2006; it was acquired by the Museum in 2009. It is not a precise replica, including several minor changes for safety and performance, such as a slightly different wing airfoil shape; hence the 'D' type designation.[64][65][66][67]
  • Stearman N2S-3 – The Museum's was acquired when the founder, Mr. Yagen, was looking for a training aircraft to learn how to handle tail wheel airplanes (the usual configuration for World War II-period aircraft); it was purchased over the phone in the winter of 1997, one of the Museum's first acquisitions. This particular aircraft had recently been restored to its original condition.[5][68]
  • Waco YMF-5 – The museum's example is a replica, built in 1989, after they were returned to production in March 1986, by WACO Classic Aircraft.[69]




  • Polikarpov I-15bis – The Museum's example is believed to be the only example remaining; it was found wrecked in Northern Russia, and fully restored and flying again by July, 2001.[80][81]

World War II aircraftEdit


  • Bell P-39 Airacobra – The museum's P-39F (s/n 41-7215) arrived to the museum in May 2019 after a ~15 year restoration in both Australia and then at Pioneer Aerospace in New Zealand.[82][better source needed]
  • Bell P-63 Kingcobra (static display) – The museum's P-63A-10-BE (s/n 42-70609) is one of a group which were engaged against Japanese forces at the end of World War II in Far Eastern Russian territory; several were found there after 60 years of open storage. Although the museum has located the rare Allison engine for this aircraft, no restoration is currently planned, as it has significant internal corrosion and would need to be completely rebuilt.[83][failed verification]
  • Cessna UC-78 Bobcat (currently not on display) – The museum's example (s/n 43-31765) was donated to the museum in 2020 and arrived to the museum November 2020. The aircraft went through minor restoration before being put on display with the collection.[84][better source needed]
US Navy hangar, location of the Catalina, along with other US Navy planes
  • Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina – The museum's PBY-5, Bureau Number 48294, was built in 1943, and served in a variety of locations around the Atlantic during World War II and with the Coast Guard after the war. Leaving government service in 1956, it then had a long and colorful civilian career, including stints as a fuel tanker in Alaska, and was eventually seized by the US Government for drug smuggling. It was purchased by the museum in England in 2001.[85][86]
  • Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk – This particular aircraft, serial number 41-35918, was built in 1941 and sent to the UK as a Lend-Lease item; it was passed along to the Russians in April, 1942, and lost in action while protecting Murmansk. It stayed on the tundra where it had landed for almost 50 years, and was recovered in 1992; acquired by the Museum's founder in 1996, it finally flew again in 2003.[5][87][88]
  • Douglas A-26B Invader (in storage - not on display) – The Museum's was built in 1945, but not much is known about the military history of this plane. After being stored in Texas for a number of years, it was purchased in 1996, and trucked to the Fighter Factory for total restoration.[89]
  • Douglas SBD Dauntless (to be restored) – The museum's example (Bu.36175) arrived to the museum in an unrestored condition in February, 2021. It will be on display for a short period of time before being shipped off for restoration.[90]
  • Fairchild PT-19A – The museum's, serial number 42-83643 (T43-7230), was ordered in 1942, built in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1943, and delivered to the Air Force on February 23, 1944. It had a very short military life, being listed as "disposed as surplus" on September 7, 1944. Little is known of its life after that; it was purchased from a company in Texas in November, 2013.[citation needed]
  • Grumman FM-2 Wildcat – The museum's example, an FM-2 variant built under license by GM (based on Grumman's XF4F-8 prototype), was produced in 1944. It saw service in the Philippines, and in July, 1945 was transferred to a small training field in Pungo (not the same location as the Virginia Beach Airport, though); it entered private hands in 1952, and came to the museum in 2010. It is thought to be the most original F4F in existence.[91][92][93]
  • Grumman TBM-3E AvengerGM's Eastern Aircraft Division became a second source for the Avenger, eventually building over 7,500, around three-quarters of the total production of this type; the Museum's, BuNo. 53454, came from this source in 1945. Although sent to the Philippines, it does not appear to have seen active service; before being surplused in 1956, it accumulated only 1,227 hours. It then saw duty as a fire "bomber" in Idaho; restoration commenced in 1998, and it was acquired by the Museum in 2001.[94][95][96]
  • Naval Aircraft Factory N3N – The N3N open-cockpit tandem primary trainer was the last biplane in US military service; this example is BuNo. 2892, aircraft registration N120BH, built in 1941, and sold off to civilian use in October, 1943. Having not flown since the 1950s, it was acquired by the museum in 2007, part of a group of N3N's found in a barn, and restoration was completed in 2011.[97][98][99][100]
  • North American B-25J Mitchell – The museum's, B-25J-25/27-NC serial number 44-30129 "Wild Cargo", was built in late 1944; surplused in 1958, it passed through several hands (once for as little as $500), before ending its flying in 1963 after a dual engine and landing gear failure. Bought by the Museum in 1997, after a complete restoration it finally flew again in November, 2005.[101][102]
P-51 Mustang Double Trouble Two
  • North American P-51D Mustang – The premier American ground-based fighter of World War II; this example, serial number 44-63684 (but the tail wheel says 44-72483) was built in 1945, and sent to the UK to join the Eighth Air Force. In 1947 it went to the Swedish Air Force, and then through several others until entering private ownership in 1972, being acquired by the Museum in 2004.[5][103][104]
  • North American SNJ-4 – This example was converted to resemble a P-64 in 2001; after a complex history including a spell at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and a forced landing due to a failed engine, it was acquired by the museum in 2014.[105]
  • North American SNJ-2 – An early variant of the basic North American NA-16 advanced trainer, first flown in 1935.[106]
  • Piper NE-1 Glimpy – It was designed in World War II to be dropped from a blimp to take photos and to do other tasks.[107]
  • Stinson L-5 Sentinel – This small high-wing utility aircraft, capable of short unimproved airstrip operations, was the second most common light observation aircraft of the war, after the Piper L-4 Cub. Capable of taking off in as little as 50 feet when using full flaps, they could operate out of almost any small field.[108]
  • Vought FG-1D Corsair – A F4U-1D (Corsair Mk IV) produced by Goodyear in May 1945, the museum's Corsair, BuNo. 92508, apparently spent much of its military career in storage; it is one of the lowest time Corsairs known. After 13 years with the military, it passed into private ownership, coming to the Museum in 1999. Gerald Yagan chose to use the insignia of the VF17 Corsair flown by Ray Beacham during the war, because Lt. Beacham was born in Norfolk, raised by his grandparents in Kitty Hawk, was known in the squadron as the Kitty Hawk kid, and chose to become a teacher after retiring from the Navy [5][109][110]


    CASA 352 N352JU in flight over the museum at the Warbirds Over The Beach display in May, 2015
    CASA 352L – The museum's is a post-war example built by CASA under license at their plant in Getafe, Spain, under their type designation CASA 352L. Once thought to be serial number 67 (built in May 1950), matching data plates in the cabin and on the outside of the fuselage revealed it to actually be serial number 77, built in January 1949. Assigned identification number T2B 176 by Spanish Air Force, they surplused it in November, 1976, when it was sold to the legendary Confederate Air Force. Grounded for 8 years in 1990 by engine problems, it was converted to P&W Wasp engines, and acquired by the Museum in 2010.[111][112][113]


Mosquito KA114 taxiing after landing during an airshow at the museum
  • de Havilland Mosquito – The museum's example, a Canadian-built FB Mk 26, serial number KA114, was constructed in early 1945, never left Canada and was surplussed in April 1948. The farmer who bought it took it to his farm in Alberta, where it sat outside in a field until August 1978. After passing unrestored through another warbird collection, restoration (including building of new fuselage and wings, as the existing ones were too deteriorated) began in January 2005 in New Zealand, continuing until 2012. Its first post-restoration flight was on September 27 of that year.[114][115][116][117]
  • Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIB – This example (serial # 5667, construction # 56022) was built in Canada in 1943, never left Canada during the war, and was surplused in October, 1946. It was recovered from a farm in Saskatchewan in 1965; after a long restoration, it finally flew again in May, 1994, and came to the museum in 2001, in almost completely original condition.[118][119][120]
  • Supermarine Mk IXE Spitfire – The museum's, serial number MJ730, was produced in December, 1943, and went on to serve in North Africa, Italy, Corsica, Greece and Yugoslavia. Post-war it wound up in Israel, where it eventually became a dilapidated playground attraction in an Israeli kibbutz, from where it was rescued in 1978. Restoration was finally completed in 1988, and the museum acquired it in 1999.[121][122][123]



  • Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 – The museum's aircraft was the first MiG-3 to fly in 60 years, in a public display at the Moscow Air Show, after which it was brought to the museum.[135][136]
  • Polikarpov Po-2 Mule – The museum's example, discovered in a forest outside Vladivostok and restored in Russia, is one of few remaining examples of the most-produced military aircraft in history; over 40,000 were produced during its long production run, 1928-1953.[137][138]
  • Polikarpov I-153 – The museum's example was built in 1938, serial number 6316; it was found in a swamp outside of Murmansk, and was restored in Russia in 1998; the Museum acquired it in December, 2002.[139][140]
  • Polikarpov I-16 Rata – The museum's was built in late 1939, and assigned identity number White #28; it was recovered in the early 1990s from a crash site in Karelia near the Finnish border.[141][142]
  • Yakovlev Yak-3M – The one in the museum is actually a replica, using an Allison engine, built in 1991 at the Yakovlev factory using original parts and dies.[143][144]

Post-WWII aircraftEdit


  • Beechcraft T-34A Mentor – The Museum's instance, serial number G-778, was produced in 1956, and apparently passed out of military service in 1966. Over the years it has been upgraded to the T-34B configuration, with a new engine; it was acquired by the Museum in August 2000.[145][146]
  • Douglas AD-4 Skyraider – The Museum's aircraft (BuNo. 123827) was built in 1949, and saw three tours in Korea with several different squadrons. After spending 10 years as a static display in Atlanta, in 1966 it was purchased and restored to flying condition; the Museum acquired it in 2000.[147][148]
  • North American T-28D Trojan – The Museum's, serial number 49-1634, was built in 1949, and rebuilt into a D model, with the underwing hardpoints, in 1951. Transferred to the Zaire Air Force in 1971, it saw service with them until 1997, and came to the Museum in August 2000.[149][150]



  • Lavochkin La-9 – The museum's example, c/n 828, is the only known flyable survivor (of 6 airframes worldwide). It apparently saw service in Korea with the Chinese Air Force, and was retired to a display role; following discussions that began in 1986, it was exported to the United States in 1996. After another decade of restoration, it finally flew again in 2003.[152][153]


  • Fiat G.46-3B – It was delivered to the Italian Air Force in 1950 and released in July 1961. It was later exported into the United States on June 15, 1972. The plane was purchased in the Spring of 2015.[154]

German PrototypesEdit

The museum houses a large collection of WWII German prototypes (all static displays). These aircraft are replicas but some of them have been built containing original parts.[155] The Germans built a lot of prototypes during but mostly at the end of the war as last resort efforts.


  • Hispano-Suiza 8C
  • Laister-Kauffman TG-4A – A tandem 2-seat sailplane produced in the U.S. during World War II for training cargo glider pilots; it was a conventional sailplane design with a steel tube fuselage and wooden wings and tail, skinned all over in fabric.[160]
  • Grunau Baby II – (not on display) An advanced glider widely used in the 1930s to train pilots for what was to become the Luftwaffe (German military aviation being prohibited at that point by the Treaty of Versailles). The Museums' (werknummer 030340) was built in 1942, and acquired by the Museum in the spring of 2014; it is under restoration by a group of volunteers.[161]
  • Fieseler Fi 103 V-1 – An unmanned flying bomb, the first jet-powered aircraft in history to be used as an offensive weapon. The Museum's was found in a tunnel in Poland after German reunification in 1989; it is fully functional, and is the only one known which retains its radio homing device.[162]
  • Thompson Mk V Refueller – Created specifically as specialized vehicles for refueling aircraft, this example was built in 1938 by Thompson Brothers Ltd of Bilston, Staffordshire, England and was actually used at the famous RAF North Weald airfield during the Battle of Britain.[163][164]
  • Hucks starter – The first mechanical aid to starting aircraft engines, they were based on Ford Model Ts, and later on Model TT trucks. This one is based on a 1918 Model TT, using a period-correct Muncie auxiliary transmission.[164][165]
    CASA 352L N352JU taxis past the museum's restored Flak 37 88mm gun during the May 2015 Warbirds Over The Beach display. The gun fires reduced charge blanks at the museum's 'Allied' aircraft during the display.
    Packard Merlin
  • Flak 37 88mm gun
  • AEC Routemaster – manufactured in 1962[166][167]
  • Messerschmitt KR200[144]
  • OQ-19D
  • Enigma Machine

See alsoEdit


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  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2015"; Official Program Guide, May 15–17, 2015; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2014"; Official Program Guide, May 16–18, 2014; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2013"; Official Program Guide, May 17–19, 2013; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2012"; Official Program Guide, May 18–20, 2012; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Warbirds Over The Beach 2011"; Official Program Guide, May 20–22, 2011; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia
  • "Biplanes and Triplanes"; Official Program Guide, September 21–23, 2012; Military Aviation Museum; Pungo, Virginia

External linksEdit