Must See Museum: The Flying Leathernecks

A great reunion is more than hanging out in the hospitality room with your old friends and new ones. It’s about the destination. What historical sites will you visit? What relevant museums would your members love to see? What attractions are in the area? Armed Forces Reunions guides our groups to the best destinations where our groups have just as much fun on the tours as they do telling war stories in the hospitality room.

The Flying Leatherneck Museum in San Diego is the only museum in the world primarily dedicated to United States Marine Corps (USMC) aviation. It has the largest and most complete collection of historical aircraft flown by U.S. Marine pilots in the world. The Museum tells the proud story of USMC Aviation and the part it has played in defending America.  The Museum was established in 1989 on MCAS El Toro in Orange County, CA. When Base Realignment closed El Toro in 1999, a group of retired Marines from San Diego, led by Major Generals Bob Butcher and Frank Lang, spearheaded the move of the aircraft and artifacts to MCAS Miramar.

SBD-1 Dauntless Restoration


The Museum maintains and restores vintage aircraft used by the United States Marine Corps through work performed by employees and volunteers, and is proud to have more than 48 aircraft in its collection. Exhibits are rotated on a regular basis in order to provide variety to visitors.  One of the most unique exhibits and programs is the recovery and restoration efforts of the only SBD-1 Dauntless dive bomber in existence, now in the Museum’s collection.  This SBD-1 #1612 was accepted by the Marine Corps in 1940 at MCAS Quantico, then was sent to Camp Kearney before being assigned to the “Great Lakes Navy” in Glenview, IL. During its time at this Naval Reserve Air Base, The Dauntless trained pilots to land aboard a converted paddle-wheeler USS Wolverine as part of their Carrier Qualification Training. On November 23, 1942 it crashed and became one of the 38 Dauntless’ to end up at the bottom of Lake Michigan, where it spent 52 years.

Make sure to check out the Military Working Dogs Exhibit, the aviation art and NASA Flight Logos display, and events like Picnic With a Pilot and Open Cockpit Days. Armed Forces Reunions, Inc. plans best in class tours and reunion activities for our groups wherever they meet, give us a call and let’s talk about how we can help make your next reunion the most successful yet. Call Charley Dey at 1-800-562-7226 or email


Photo Credits: The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum