Hangar Talk event at Planes of Fame Air Museum explores aviation history while honoring veterans

"I happen to be a couple months short of 99 years old, so I can appreciate all this," said one veteran.

Marc Cota-Robles Image
Monday, August 22, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

A unique program presented by the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino celebrates the major achievements in World War II aviation history, and sometimes, all it takes is for you to look to the sky.

CHINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A unique program presented by the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino celebrates the major achievements in World War II aviation history, and sometimes, all it takes is for you to look to the sky.

Hangar Talk is a monthly event organizers described as a "live magazine."

Each in-person presentation focuses on different people or places that changed the aviation world.

During last week's Hangar Talk, WWII Army Air Corps Veteran Russell Scharman spoke with Eyewitness News about his service.

In the 1940s, the second lieutenant was given the job of training new pilots, calling it a beauty to fly.

"I was surprised the first time I got in a B-25," said Scharman. "I took off, shoved the throttle forward and all of a sudden, I was going 250 mph. I hadn't been in anything that fast before."

Veterans like Scharman are among many who help educate visitors.

"We tell their stories in a way so that people understand the sacrifices, why we as a society really owe a debt of gratitude to all our veterans," said Brian Finnegan with the Planes of Fame Air Museum.

Plus, the museum has a unique collection of aircraft, including the 1945 P-51D Mustang, which was recently featured in one of this year's summer blockbusters, "Top Gun: Maverick."

"It's actually owned by actor Tom Cruise," said Finnegan. "This is his personal aircraft. He owns a number of aircraft and he's quite an accomplished pilot and he flies it in the film. It'll be here at least through Labor Day, and we're hoping to extend that even all the way to the end of the year."

As cool as that aircraft is, getting the chance to hear from veterans who actually flew these planes years ago is priceless.

"Bring your kids, it's the best experience," said Cami Thomas, a mom from Rialto, who took her family to the museum last week. "They get to see all these beautiful aircraft and get to have a really enjoyable family afternoon and support the local community."

As for Scharman, those moments live with him forever.

"I happen to be a couple months short of 99 years old, so I can appreciate all this," he said.

For more information, visit the Planes of Fame Air Museum's website.