O.C. Great Park: Heritage and Aviation Exhibition

The Heritage and Aviation Exhibition is located in historical Hangar 244 and features images, displays and artifacts that tell the story of the Great Park from its agricultural roots to its role in the military as a Marine Corps Air Station.

1940s Hangar Flight Line

The exhibition includes:

  • World War II Airplanes – N3N Canary and SNJ-5 Texan
  • Air Force C-135A Stratolifter Memorial – In honor of United States Airmen and Marines who perished in
  • History Room – Transports back in time to World War II the Loma Ridge crash departing El Toro Marine Corps Air Station on June 25, 1965.
  • Farmers to Flyers – Learn significant events that transformed Irvine’s agricultural land into an active military base

Exhibition Receptions Open to the Public

An opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 20 from 10-11:30 a.m. The Exhibition will remain open until 4 p.m. following the reception.

A 50th anniversary reception and memorial unveiling, in honor of those who lost their lives in the Stratolifter-Loma Ridge crash, will be held on Saturday, June 27 from 1-3 p.m.

Exhibition Hours
Thursdays and Fridays: 12-4 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Historic Hangar 244 | Map & Directions
Note: Exhibition hours may occasionally vary due to private events. Please call (866) 829-3829 for up to date information.

The Orange County Great Park unveiled a Heritage and Aviation Exhibition Saturday to commemorate the history of the site — the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

The permanent exhibition, located in Hangar 244, features historical displays and artifacts that share the agricultural and military history of the land.

The morning began with a reunion and reception for veterans, followed by a ceremony and presentation of the colors.

Colonel Jaques Naviaux , 81, was among the veterans in attendance. Now residing in Palos Verdes, he first came to El Toro in 1961 after flight school, where he was stationed on and off for 12 years. In his 32 years as a fighter pilot, he flew 400 missions in Vietnam.

“My first fighter squadron out of training was here, so this is my heritage. I think it’s wonderful,” he said of the exhibition.

Henry Korn, retired Manager Emeritus of Art, Culture and Heritage at the Great Park was one of many involved in the creation of the exhibit.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the public to learn about the history of the land,” he said. “The El Toro base changed history forever – it stimulated post World War II development of Orange County.”

Allan Mawhinney, 86, is docent at the new exhibition. He was a legal superintendent in the air force for 22 years, creating legal documents for troops who wanted wills after seeing the harsh realities of combat.

“I enjoyed the camaraderie and participation in the military, and this exhibition reminds me of what I contributed,” he said. “It’s important to know and appreciate what happened before you.”

Currently, the exhibition includes actual pieces from the era – two aircrafts, an ejection seat, an instrument panel, helmets and a flight suit. There is also a room that includes audio from the era and relics of home life. Mya Sanders, who is in charge of operations at the Great Park, said displays will rotate.

The exhibition will be open Thursdays & Fridays from 12-4 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Source: Alison Glander, staff writer, Orange County Register  | June 20, 2015

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