Lyon Air Museum

Based in Orange County and looking for things to do, Ruth, family, and I went to see the Lyon Air Museum at 19300 Ike Jones Road in Santa Ana, CA near John Wayne Airport and Disneyland. It was started by an interesting man and is now a fairly typical museum of its type but worth seeing. I generally don’t pay much attention to aviation museums.

The interesting founder was Major General William Lyon. We first watched a film about this now dead, heroic man. William Lyon entered the military in 1944 during World War II. Nine years later he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, and over time he amassed several more military honors. By 1954 his interests were expanding to Orange County building. He built many houses in Anaheim for $8,900 at a time when there was a huge demand for housing and made a fortune as Disneyland was being built in the area. These houses would now be classified as small for California. Disneyland opened in 1955. William Lyon benefited from his service in the Air Force Reserve.

William Lyon built a particular kind of house around this LA county. He created the classic 4 bedroom house that was rather minor by today’s standards. The company specialized in gourmet kitchens, pink shag carpeting, and green appliances. William Lyon predicted that shag carpets would return to popularity while counting his money, building houses in a hot area, and keeping costs down. He retired from the Air Force and bought a bankrupt airline that he then sold to American Airlines. This was a golden era for builders in Orange County.

William Lyon was gentlemanly and funny. He was often called the poor man’s Bob Hope as Wayne Newton’s Danke Schoen played behind the visuals. He founded this museum filled with World War II aircraft, racing cars, and jeeps while amassing a personal collection of about 100 vintage and classic cars. He had multiple careers and was active in his community.

Someone told me that his son drove for NASCAR. This would account for the presence of so many motorcycles and race cars in this museum including 2 Steve MacQueen marvels, but I could find no serious connection. It is likely that their inclusion was simply to honor this museum’s dedication to vintage vehicles. There is an impressive World War II aura about this place that had the air conditioning turned off while we were there on a hot day. I was led to assume that men like Marcus Gropl and others are responsible for this obsession with aviation’s past and the current show that is on view until September 5, “War Surplus on Wheels”.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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