Pope X3

My grandfather is a retired aircraft engineer from Boeing (aka McDonald Douglas) and a Navy veteran. Aircraft have always been a huge part of his life. Little did he know, he was about to take a stroll down memory lane and our tour of Estrella Warbird Museum would be led by the best guide in town.

Our day began at Joe’s One-Niner Diner, located inside the Paso Robles Municipal Airport. Grandpa Daniel and his three great grandsons were content as they watched the airplanes soaring in and out while enjoying “the best bacon ever!” This is one of Joe’s three restaurants my husband and boys have made a tradition of enjoying every Sunday. The food is delicious and the waitresses have their orders memorized!

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The airport is near the Estrella Warbird Museum, which carries an extensive collection of military aircraft and collectables and is the home of the famous Woodland Auto Display. As we entered the lobby of the museum, I mentioned to the lady that my grandfather was a Navy veteran. She shook his hand and genuinely thanked him for his service. As she walked us through the map of the museum and outdoor hangers, she suggested we poke our heads in to say hello to the friendly pilots welcoming visitors to check out their cherished treasures. We instantly felt at home and comfortable enough to allow the boys to cruise around and complete the scavenger hunt offered to them at the front desk. This encouraged them to look a little deeper into their history and have a little fun while doing it.

While putting on our visitors badges a sweet gentleman greeted the boys and introduced them to the full-size F/A 18 cockpit simulator, previously used at Naval Air Station Lemoore for pilot training. The giant white screen in front of the cockpit projects a visual to add to the sensation of being up in the air. It is up to the flyer to determine the level of involvement. It can be as simple as taking off, landing or protecting yourself and your aircraft in the middle of extreme combat. The boys (including my husband and grandfather) were thrilled to sit in the cockpit of an actual aircraft, as if they were thousands of feet high in the sky. As the boys took their turns in the simulator, my grandfather and I took a stroll through the museum. It was fascinating listening to his detailed memories as he pointed out and named every single model naval ship on display. 

This small but mighty museum is such a wonderful way to honor our country’s history. Seeing it through our grandfather’s eyes was unforgettable but him seeing it through his great grandson’s eyes was priceless.