Saxon Aerospace Museum - The Right Stuff
Boron, a very small town in the high desert, might seem an unlikely place to host an aerospace museum. But it's next to Edwards Air Force base, famous for its role in flight research and test pilot heroics -- where the really dangerous parts depicted in the The Right Stuff occurred. And overhead is "protected air space" -- a restricted flight area and test pilot playground of 20,000 square miles.
Boron feels a kinship in Aerospace Valley, under all that air. The museum was created by the town and opened in 2002, named after the late pilot Col. Vernon P. Saxon Jr., a former Vice-Commander at the Air Force Test Flight Center at Edwards and a prime booster of the museum project.
An F-4 Phantom fighter jet sits near the entrance. The museum displays a collection of artifacts, jet and missile parts, photos, models -- some from old buildings on the base, or from retired base personnel donations. A rubber tire leaning against a jet engine turned out to be the latest acquisition -- off an SR-71 spy plane. The tire "would have been thrown out if I hadn't grabbed it," one docent told us.
There are exhibits about test pilot and sound-barrier cracker Chuck Yeager (a bronze statue of him is at the base); and female pilot Pancho Barnes (who ran the local watering hole -- The Happy Bottom Riding Club -- where each day's surviving test pilots would hang out). Pancho's long gone, but her house still stands; museum volunteers will direct you to it.