December Nights

Come to the San Diego Air & Space Museum and celebrate the 35th Annual December Nights!

During the evenings of December 6th and 7th, you can experience the following fun activities:

Get here early because the fun begins at 3pm on Friday and Saturday.

For more information on December Nights, including transportation options and parking, click here.

Note our special hours:

Museum closed 12/6 until 3:00pm. Open free 3:00-10:00pm. Last admission 9:30pm.

Museum closed 12/7 until 3:00pm. Open free 3:00-10:00pm. Last admission 9:30pm.

Happy Holidays!

Fly Your Ride Competition

Fly Your Ride! Competition

Fly Your Ride! Competition

Build a flying car!

Sounds complicated? It’s not.

We’re looking for students who want to build a vehicle no larger than a shoebox, slide it down a ramp and see if it can jump a gap. It’s fun, it’s creative, and you don’t have to be a science fair genius to come up with a winning entry. We’ll give you feedback, create opportunities to talk to experts, and give away great prizes.

Students from 6th through 12th grade in San Diego County are encouraged to take part. 



Welcome to the Flying Car competition! We are looking forward to seeing your imaginative ideas.

The idea, and the rules, are simple. Build a vehicle, let it slide down a ramp, and see if it can jump a gap! Everything else is details – and here are those details.

Vehicle Measurements

Ramp Details

Use of the ramp during the competition



Vehicle Materials and Power

We love creative ideas, and we understand that the rules listed above may not cover every possibility that creative student minds might come up with. We’re hoping, in fact, that the students are so creative that they will come up with ideas that have never occurred to us! The judging committee will however evaluate every vehicle from a safety point of view. We encourage you to contact us during your design process if you are unsure whether your design would be allowed.


STAGE ONE (ends January 28, 2014):

You’ll need to form your team – which can be from one to five students. You’ll also need an adult coach (it can be a teacher, parent, or other adult in a role of responsibility in your life). Their role is not to give you ideas or create your vehicle for you, but instead to help you meet and to submit the paperwork.

STAGE TWO (now until January 28, 2014):

You will need to submit your initial design to us. A person can be on only one team, and only one design can be submitted per team. This is what you will need to submit:

Your entry can be submitted via mail to the SDASM Education Department, 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101, and must be postmarked by January 28, 2014. It can also be emailed to Please make sure you keep the original and send us a copy. We cannot be held responsible for entries lost in the mail or not received via email.

STAGE THREE (January 28 - April 1, 2014):

Our judging team will then evaluate your entry, and choose which teams can move forward to the next stage.

You will then have the opportunity (at your request) to talk to our experts. They may be able to provide advice on modifying your vehicle. This contact must be made via the competition organizers, and not directly with the experts.

STAGE FOUR (April 12, 2014):

The big day! We’ll hold the competition finals at the museum, and see how your car does on the ramp! We’ll then pick the winners and award the prizes!


The ramp will gradually be widened as the competition proceeds. The gap will begin at two feet, then be increased to three feet, then three and a half feet. If necessary, it will continue to be widened a half foot at a time, at judge discretion, to narrow down to a winner.

Distance – We will award a prize for the vehicle that jumps the widest gap and is able to touch the horizontal ramp surface on the other size.

Creativity – What was it about your design that was new, special, or original? We’ll award a prize for original thinking, even if that vehicle does not jump the gap furthest.


There are two age ranges in the competition:

Grades 6-8

Grades 9-12.


First prize (one per age range): $500.

Second prize (one per age range): $350.

Third prize (one age range): $150.

Creativity prize (two per age range): $150.

We reserve the option to keep and display your entries in the museum and/or other venues, including online. We would love to show off your success!

Good luck and we will see you at the San Diego Air & Space Museum!

Ripley's Closing Soon

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Closing soon!

Our extremely popular exhibit, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, is closing January 5, 2014.

 Ripley's Believe it or Not at the San Diego Air and Space Museum


Escape from the ordinary and step into the shockingly odd world of Ripley at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! at the San Diego Air & Space Museum! This is the first time a Ripley’s exhibition has been to San Diego since the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935.


For over 40 years, Robert Ripley - a real-life Indiana Jones - traveled the world collecting the unbelievable, the inexplicable and the one-of-a-kind. His vast collections, praised as “amazing,” “ludicrously strange,” and “extremely amusing,” are now on display for a limited time!


Buzz Aldrin Figure in Eye of Needle

Willard Wigan’s Buzz Aldrin sculpture in the eye of a needle


See in person the incredible “Believe It or Not!’s” you’ve read about in the Ripley books and cartoons and watched on television. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! special exhibition is a self-guided, self-paced interactive tour that is fun for the whole family and surely San Diego’s most bizarre attraction.

Transformer made from recycled car parts

Bumblebee transformer made of recycled cars from Thailand


Some of the many interactive galleries include:

Aviation & Space Oddities

Unusual Modes of Transportation

Strange People and Odd Animals

Weird, Wacky, and Unusual Art

The Robert Ripley Story

Tribal Artifacts collected from around the globe (including an authentic shrunken head)

Vampires & Graveyards (view an original vampire killing kit)

 ” Incredible…incomparable. A pop-culture phenomenon on the order of Barnum & Disney.”

— Smithsonian Magazine

1935 California Pacific Exposition 

Ripley’s had an “Odditorium” in Balboa Park during the 1935 California Pacific Exposition


Ripley’s Believe It or Not! only $5 with paid general admission. For a complete list of pricing, please click here.


Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is open daily from 10AM to 4PM (winter) and 10AM to 5PM (summer). The Museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.


The Man Behind “Believe It or Not!” 

Robert Leroy Ripley, the cartoonist, the explorer, the reporter, adventurer, illustrator, collector and seeker of the odd and unusual, is a man who lived a life that can only be summed up by the statement he himself created; “Believe It or Not!”

His life’s work, his discoveries, his artistry, the tales he told and adventures he lived will forever be the foundation of all that Ripley Entertainment encompasses. 

Ripley’s Legacy

Ripley’s legacy and what he brought to the world is alive in all of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums and his traditions continue with the Believe It or Not! cartoon series. Today the daily cartoon is seen in nearly 200 newspapers worldwide, in 42 countries, and 17 languages. The exhibits in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums are based on the collections of oddities obtained by Ripley throughout his world travels. Every year millions of people visit the Ripley’s museums to take part in the adventure, one in which they experience first-hand the incredible world of Robert Ripley! Believe It or Not!

50 Years of Excellence

Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

It seems like only yesterday, but it’s been 50 years since the San Diego Aerospace Museum opened its doors for the first time. Since then, we’ve moved twice, added an annex at Gillespie Field, acquired the original Consolidated Aircraft Wind Tunnel, and increased our aircraft collection from six to more than 120. But most importantly, we’ve positively impacted more than 15 million people—providing a world-class learning experience and inspiring youth to excel in their lives.

Click here to watch our special 50th Anniversary Video

Today, as one of our nation’s five largest and most comprehensive aero-themed museums, the San Diego Air & Space Museum is the official Air & Space Museum and Education Center of California and home to the third largest aviation archives and library in the United States. As the only aviation/space center of excellence in our region with accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (determined by a rigorous process met by only 4% of museums nationally) and one of only three Smithsonian affiliates in San Diego County, your San Diego Air & Space Museum has a strong and proven record of upholding the highest standards of excellence and achievement.

Through generous investments, we continue to surpass our goals and fulfill our mission to

Preserve…Inspire…Educate…Celebrate! Here’s How:





Join in our celebration and help us celebrate 50 years of excellence!

Click here to donate to the Museum today.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for a unique gift this holiday season? The Museum has many great options! 


Give a unique aviation gift at a great price, all while helping inspire future generations with the majesty of flight, with the gift of membership at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Click here to buy a membership for someone special!


Museum Books

Celebrating San Diego Air & Space Museum

by San Diego Air & Space Museum

The Museum is thrilled to announce a new publication: Celebrating San Diego Air & Space Museum. This illustrated guidebook shares not just the history of the institution, but brings to life the stories of its remarkable, one-of-a-kind collections. Organized into six major sections – Dawn of Flight, World War I, Golden Era, World War II, Jet Age, and Space Exploration – each section spotlights the Museum’s collections and their significance, using unique images from the archives to help tell their stories, as well as exploring important San Diego area contributions to the history of aerospace. From da Vinci’s flying machines to the Apollo 9 Command Module, Celebrating is a guide, a colorful and informative reminder for those who visit the museum, and documentation for those who could not visit.

purchase today for $17.95


Just Plane Delicious

by San Diego Air & Space Museum

Enjoy first class fare from the San Diego Air & Space Museum while supporting the Museum's world class Library & Archives. Soar to new heights with hundreds of delectably delicious dishes contributed by the Museum's staff, volunteers, and friends.

San Diego has played a significant role in both the aviation and space industries since the early 20th century, when aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss became the "Father of Naval Aviation" at North Island. Since then, the city has had a hand in the building of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of Saint Louis by Ryan Airways, the journey to space with Convair's Atlas rocket, and is involved with the present-day Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. Because of this legacy, San Diego has become known as the "Air Capital of the West."

The San Diego Air & Space Museum has been the keeper of this rich heritage for nearly fifty years. Through preservation of significant artifacts, presentation of dynamic exhibits, and extensive resources of its Library & Archives, the Museum commemorates the men and women who forged aerospace history. This cookbook will help us continue those daring and important achievements. Click here to download a printable order form

purchase today for $20.00


The holiday shopping season is almost upon us and we want to make you aware of a wonderful opportunity to support SDASM with almost no effort! 

Amazon recently launched Amazon Smile - a way to give back to your favorite nonprofit just by shopping! This new feature allows for a 0.5% donation from eligible purchases to a charity of the user’s choice, such as the San Diego Air & Space Museum. It won’t cost you anything extra to use Amazon Smile, as the company is simply donating part of its profits. Plus, there’s no cap to how much you can use the service.

Here’s how to help our missions of preservation and education while shopping for your favorite goods!

1. Visit

2. Enter “San Diego Air and Space Museum” in the box labeled “Or pick your own charitable organization:”

3. Select “San Diego Air and Space Museum” from the resulting list.

4. Note: Make sure to select “San Diego Air and Space Museum” and not “San Diego Air & Space Museum Foundation” when making your selection.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!


Gift Shop Items

Bell X-1

Flown by Chuck Yeager, the Bell X-1 was the first plane to break the sound barrier. This all mahogany model is scaled with the exact details of the version Chuck Yeager flew. A variety of aircraft is also available, from the Spirit of St. Louis all the way to the B-2 Spirit bomber.


Dusty Planes

From the popular Disney movie Planes, Dusty is a great gift for kids. With several characters to choose from and various sets, this is a great holiday gift for kids. Book selections are also carried along with the toys.


Women Aviators

Profiling 26 women who pioneered aviation, Women Aviators is a perfect addition for any history buff. Chronicle the impacts of women like Katherine Wright--sister of the Wright brothers--to Amelia Earhart and beyond.



Author of Flags of Our Fathers, Thomas Bradley looks at the lives of eight American airmen captured by Japanese troops. A ninth was saved by a submarine and became President of the United States. Bradley also gives an in-depth but quick review of the history between America and Japan and the racial divides that led to war.


Rare Atlas Collection

Museum Receives Rare Historic Atlas Rocket Film Collection--Only One of its Kind in the World

Unique films document many of America’s space missions

The San Diego Air & Space Museum received a historic Atlas space launch vehicle film collection donation from Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance (ULA), totaling approximately 3,000 reels of 16-millimeter film. The collection is being digitized by the Museum and will be made available online for worldwide public access. In addition to the film, $50,000 to preserve and catalog this collection was provided to the Museum by Lockheed Martin and ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company that designs, builds and launches the Atlas and Delta rockets that deliver critical missions for the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and other commercial customers.

The Atlas film collection includes interviews and lectures by early rocket pioneers, such as Krafft Ehricke, known as the “Father of the Atlas;” James Dempsey, who headed development of the original Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program; and Dr. Charles Draper, known as the “Father of Inertial Navigation.” Films of both presidential and early astronaut visits to Atlas facilities are included, as are films documenting many of America’s most historic space missions. The collection includes data, photographs, and film of virtually every launch over more than fifty years of the Atlas program. Virtually every aspect of the program is captured, including images of the vehicle, the design, development, test facilities, operational sites, and the men and women who made this era of spaceflight possible.

“Lockheed Martin is honored to continue to partner with the San Diego Air & Space Museum to help preserve the historical role of these heritage space technologies and monumental achievements,” said John Karas, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company’s vice president of Business Development. “Historical lessons learned, missions accomplished, and frontiers reached support and inspire us today as Lockheed Martin and others take on new challenging missions such as building and launching spacecraft that will travel to Mars and study the Martian atmosphere, rendezvous and return samples from an asteroid, and carry humans into space as part of our Nation’s next generation of human spaceflight.”

San Diego is the birthplace of the original Atlas ICBM, one of America’s air and space “giants.” Designed, developed, and manufactured in San Diego by the Convair and later the Space Systems Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Atlas provided an effective Cold War deterrent in its initial role as America’s first ICBM, and later served as a reliable and more powerful space launch vehicle for sending America’s first astronauts into Earth orbit. Atlas launched the first satellite to project a human voice from space in 1958, broadcasting a message to Earth from US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Atlas also launched the Surveyor moon missions, which provided the foundation for Apollo human exploration voyages, as well as Mariner missions to Mars and the outer planets, critical national security missions, weather and climate monitoring satellites, and vital communications and navigation satellites such as today’s Global Positioning Satellite system.

Lockheed Martin Corporation’s heritage companies include the General Dynamics Space Systems division that was originally headquartered in San Diego, CA, where over 500 Atlas ICBM and space launch vehicles were designed and built. In 1994, the space division was acquired by Martin Marietta, and the following year, Martin Marietta joined Lockheed to form Lockheed Martin. Following this merger, Lockheed Martin donated a significant archive of historic photos and films to the Museum. The records gained at that time constituted an unprecedented historic treasure, consisting of 165,000 Atlas images, as well as 77,750 Convair aircraft images and 3,500 corporate images. The most recently acquired film collection complements the earlier Atlas collection donation.

ULA was formed in December 2006 by Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company, and provides the nation assured access to space on its Atlas and Delta launch vehicles. Since it was formed, ULA has launched 75 consecutive successful missions – 32 of which were Atlas V launches.

“United Launch Alliance is very proud to make this priceless collection of Atlas history available to the museum and the public,” said Matthew Smith, ULA’s vice president of engineering and information technology. “This history of the Atlas rocket is remarkable and a testament to our nation’s resilience in leading the world into space.” Smith, who began his career with the Atlas program in 1983 as an engineer for the Convair division of General Dynamics, added that it also is gratifying to be launching the evolved version of the rocket – the Atlas V.

“Over more than 50 years, Atlas has played a critical role in defending our country, furthering our knowledge of the universe and supporting human spaceflight. United Launch Alliance continues the tradition of excellence, delivering many of the nation’s most critical and prized assets into space on Atlas V as well as our Delta family of launch vehicles.”

Katrina Pescador, Director of the Library & Archives at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, said she was most pleased to receive this important, one-of-a-kind collection. “It is especially noteworthy, and captures a very important and remarkable period of San Diego’s air and space history. It is a perfect complement and companion to the historic photos and films Lockheed Martin donated to the Museum in 1994. Once digitized, we expect there will be a high level of researcher interest, worldwide, and will significantly broaden our online successes.”

Curatorial Updates



Plans are underway to add content to the WWI exhibit area in commemoration of the start of the “Great War” 100 years ago. Audio-video components and mannequins in period uniforms will highlight our already superior gallery. The Museum is also talking about creating an exhibit detailing the history of the reconnaissance camera, displaying the Museum’s collection of more than twenty such devices.



We are pleased to report that the Museum’s reproduction of the Bell X-1 rocket plane (flown by Chuck Yeager through the sound barrier in 1947) has been completed and it now hangs in the Museum’s Rotunda. This addition adds a milestone aircraft to the collection of vehicles having achieved major break-thru missions in aerospace history. It is truly gorgeous hanging proudly in our entry hall showcase.


Work progresses on the Hughes H-1 racer in the basement. This is a longer term project that will require a greater measure of skills and patience, testing the talents of our craftsmen volunteers.  One day, this magnificent reproduction will grace the gallery floor as the star of the “Classic Aviation” era.

At Gillespie Field, our US Navy T-34B is in the assembly stages and is coming together nicely. Sourcing parts has been a challenge that has slowed us down somewhat, but little by little we are overcoming that issue.

Also at Gillespie Field, work continues on the restoration/reproduction of the Boeing FB-5 biplane fighter from 1927. This unique aircraft construction is demanding, and all of our volunteers will have a hand in it. Parts for the fuselage are being manufactured in the machine shop, the giant upper wing assembly has put the best of our woodworking team to the test, and the weld shop is busy tying things together in the fuselage area. When finished, it will be one of only three of four in the world.

Mysteries at the Museum



The San Diego Air & Space Museum will be featured on two upcoming episodes of the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum.

Be sure to tune-in!


“Strangers on a Train, Madame Tussaud, WD-40”

Airs Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT*

At the Municipal Archives in New York City, history explorer Don Wildman examines a black-and-white negative that contains an image of an object that was part of a sinister plot of revenge.  Next, just uptown in New York’s Times Square sits the world famous Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, where the likeness of one revolutionary woman is on display, telling an inspiring and artful tale that spans one of history’s most tumultuous eras.  Wildman then investigates a large missile on the grounds of the San Diego Air & Space Museum in California that helped inspire one of America’s common household products.


“Funhouse Mummy, Playboy’s Gold, Lawn Chair in the Sky”

Airs Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT*

At the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library in Guthrie, Oklahoma, history explorer Don Wildman takes a closer look at a pistol that is tied to one of the most freakish and bizarre series of events in the history of the Wild West.  Then, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wildman examines a Model B Wright Brothers Flyer that was once the prized possession of a wealthy scoundrel on the run from the law.  And the San Diego Air & Space Museum in California has an ordinary looking lawn chair that was jerry-rigged to soar to unimaginable heights.

Enter to Win a Free iPad

Balboa Park is giving away a free iPad.

Visit the link below or scan the QR code. Goodluck!



Swap Meet & Model Contest

2014 San Diego Model Expo Regional Contest and Swap Meet

2014 San Diego Model Expo Regional Contest and Swap Meet

Scale Model Contest

When: Saturday, January 25, 9:00am to noon
Entry fee at door: $3
Entry fee for contest: $10 (includes 3 models), $2 for each additional model
Scale model raffle tickets: $1 each or 15 for $10 

Contest Theme: "As Seen on TV"

Swap Meet

Plastic Kits, Wood Kits, Diecast, Toys, Art, Publications, Flight Gear and Memorabilia
When: Saturday, January 25, 8:00am to 2:00pm

SELLERS: $35.00 per table. Set up time 7:00am to 8:00am

BUYERS: $3.00 per person. Early admission - $10.00. Gate opens at 8:00am

Event Information

Where: San Diego Air & Space Museum - Gillespie Field
335 Kenney St, El Cajon, CA
Directions: From San Diego, take Interstate 8 east to State Route 67. Take 67 to the Prospect exit and head for the Atlas missile on your left

Contact Tony Beres at 619-234-8291, ext. 138, for details. E-mail:

Click here to download the registration form