It has been a big year for Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane. Earlier this year it had its exterior restored and made the trek from Florida to California for the D23 Expo. Then it was moved to the Palm Springs Air Museum to be on display as a part of a long term loan. Now, the plane will seeing its interior restored and recreated. D23 made the announcement at a special D23 VIP event at the Palm Springs Air Museum celebrating Walt Disney’s birthday.
Along with celebrating Disney’s birthday, it also celebrated the opening of a new exhibit that is accompanying Walt Disney’s Truman Gulfstream I airplane. The exhibit includes rarely seen or exhibited items that were once in the interior of the airplane. These are now on display for visitors of the Palm Springs Air Museum to check out. Some of the items in the exhibit include a customezed instrument panel that was originally near Walt’s favorite seat on the plane. They were there so that Walt Disney could monitor flight conditions. There is also a telephone handset that allowed Walt to communicate with the cockpit. A flight bag that features the image of Mickey Mouse sitting on the tail of the “The Mouse,” as the plane was known, is also a part of the exhibit along with other items. All of these items are on a long-term loan from the Walt Disney Archives to the museum.
The announcement about the plane’s interior restoration and recreation was announced by Rebecca Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives. The project will be done by the Palm Springs Air Museum and also Phoenix Air. When finished, the Gulfstream I will resemble what it looked like when Walt Disney flew aboard it during the 1960s.
Museum Vice Chairman Fred Bell said, “We are so thrilled to partner with the Walt Disney Archives on this amazing restoration project. The Palm Springs Air Museum has restored over 60 aircraft in its 26-year history. Phoenix Air Group out of Cartersville, Georgia, has offered to donate any parts we need. Phoenix Air Group is a worldwide provider of aviation services, and at one point, owned and operated 20% of the world fleet of Gulfstream I’s flying at the time. We know that we have a special responsibility to Walt Disney, to the Archives, and to the millions of Disney fans around the world to do this work as accurately as possible so that the airplane can be enjoyed for decades to come.”
It is expected the project will take approximately two years to complete.
The Gulfstream I is on a long-term loan to the Palm Springs Air Museum. It is on display next to the collection at the museum. This new exhibit shares the history of the plane, how it fit into the history of The Walt Disney Company, and also its connection to the Palm Springs Area.
D23 shared the following information about the plane:
In 1963, Walt acquired the iconic Gulfstream. The interior of the plane, initially designed with creative input from Walt and his wife, Lillian, seated up to 15 passengers and included a galley kitchen, two restrooms, two couches, a desk, and nods to the mouse who started it all, including matchbooks and stationery adorned with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s initials were eventually included in the tail number of the plane, too, as N234MM, in 1967. Throughout its 28 years of service to The Walt Disney Company, the plane flew 20,000 hours and transported an estimated 83,000 passengers before it was decommissioned.
When visiting the museum, guests will learn about the history of this iconic plane that includes some of the following highlights:
- In 1963, Walt, members of his family, and company executives took off on a demonstration Gulfstream aircraft to explore potential locations, including Central Florida, for a proposed development often referred to as “Project X.” After Walt received his own Gulfstream in early 1964, he made several trips to Florida that ultimately laid the foundation to bring the magic of Walt Disney World Resort to life.
- Walt’s plane flew a total of 277,282 miles back and forth between Burbank and New York to oversee preparations before and during the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair, an event that brought iconic attractions such as “it’s a small world” to an East Coast audience and, later, to Disneyland.
- The plane also took Disneyland to new heights as Walt found inspiration for the look of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction as he flew over the El Moro fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while conducting research for the now fan favorite.
- “The Mouse” has a star-studded past, having been used for promotional tours for Disneyland as well as for classic movies such as The Jungle Book (1967). The aircraft also made appearances in The Walt Disney Studios films The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) and Now You See Him, Now You Don’t(1972), both of which starred Disney Legend Kurt Russell, who has ties to the desert. The aircraft has also transported notable guests including Disney Legends Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello, as well as former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, also frequent visitors to the Palm Springs area.
- Painted blue and white in 1985, Walt’s plane embarked on goodwill tours and character visits to children’s hospitals, adding to the company’s history of giving back to the community.
The Palm Springs Air Museum has more than 75 vintage airframes. This includes planes from around the world and from different eras going back as far as the Wright Brothers and as recent as the F-117 Stealth Fighter. For more information about the museum, visit PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org.
What do you think about the restoration and recreation of the inside of Mickey Mouse One: Walt’s Plane? Will you be visiting it when completed? Are you excited about it? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!