The Planes! The Planes!

I can’t wholly credit my disposition for bike commuting as the reason I learned about this place. Discovering this find previously unknown to me is also attributable to the fact I’ve been temping at a gig about a mile south of it in an entirely unremarkable section of El Segundo that’s pretty much all about getting in (via the 105 Freeway), getting out (via the same route) and getting on with your life stuck in the ensuing traffic jam home.

Making the easy decision to avoid the gridlock and pedal on in one day a few weeks ago, it was while heading south down the commute’s home stretch of Aviation Boulevard across 111th Street on my way to Imperial Highway that I first laid eyes on the prizes. The Revell model airplane-making kid in me was blown away by the proud birds of The Proud Bird Restaurant — everything from biplanes up to jet aircraft, and a lot of them just parked on the grass like their pilots taxied to a stop outside and were inside having a drink.

I would’ve snapped pix earlier had my subsequent bike rides home and the vintage winged warcraft on display all around the restaurant’s grounds not been cloaked in pre-Daylight Savings Time darkness. But now, on this first post-DST weekday, I stopped to capture some in the afternoon sunlight such as this “Cadillac of the Sky” below, a P-51 Mustang whose distinctive red tail identifies it as having been used by the famed Tuskegee Airmen. After the jump is a Vought F4U Corsair that you might recognize from the old “Black Sheep Squadron” TV show starring Robert Conrad (both images are embiggenable).

Even if these full-scale ships are just empty unflyable shells of their former selves, it’s still sublimely awesome to get so close and to see them so proudly displayed in this relatively unsung open aerospace museum quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

More pix are here on on Flickr.

7 thoughts on “The Planes! The Planes!”

  1. I LOVE the Proud Bird. Cold martinis and old-style comfort food — chops, steaks, etc. It’s like Musso and Franks with wings. Very cool place for a party or group dinner in one of the private rooms — have a drink and wander through the planes.

  2. In Lakewood:

    According to DJ Waldie’s Holy Land, the plane apparently used to just lay on the ground, but there were concerns about kids playing on it and getting hurt. It was meant to honor Lakewood residents that died in the Korean War, but I think it also honors those that died in Vietnam now.

  3. If I remember correctly, the Mustang was the last propeller combat fighter to see active duty, remaining in commission through the late ’50s I think.

    I never knew of that TV show as “Black Sheep Squadron.” I had to look that up. All I remember seeing on TV was “Baa Baa Black Sheep!”

    The Proud Bird is a fun place to visit; personally, I thought the food was so-so. Warning: Sunday brunch buffets can get REALLY busy. Maybe the food is better with regular service.

    Check it out though! It’s also fun to stand outside and watch the planes land at LAX.

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