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Update: Walt Disney's Gulfstream Joins Palm Springs Air Museum

Vintage Grumman Gulfstream I to Debut in Private Unveiling at California Museum

The Disney family's Gulfstream I will make a long-term appearance alongside the Palm Springs Air Museum collection with a special celebration on October 15th. 

The Mouse, as it's referred to within company lore, will be loaned to the California museum for exhibition. The lightly modified Gulfstream I boasts a number of characteristically Disney changes in addition to looking like it landed straight from the sixties. It's never looked better, having recently completed a renovation courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering.

The Mouse received updated wing edges, windows, and paint before being brought out for this year's Disney D23 Expo and Walt Disney exhibition at the museum this December. The Gulfstream I, like some business aircraft of the era, could charitably be called customizable, in that it left the factory as a somewhat barebones day VFR twin engine aircraft with sparse passenger accommodations.

That blank canvas was perfect for Walt Disney, at the time upgrading from a Beechcraft Queen Air. He set to work outfitting the Gulfstream with some unorthodox - for the time - equipment that almost seems commonplace in a world of EFB passenger apps. Walt's seat in the cabin was equipped with a small instrument panel in the rear of the plane to allow him to monitor flight parameters at will, tracking airspeed, altitude, and time with an embedded Mickey Mouse-themed clock. Also ahead of his time was the addition of a handset connected to the cockpit for easy in-flight communications. Small touches throughout the aircraft show Walt's trademark attention to detail, whether small Mickey-emblazoned accents or the orange on white logo to match the company's logo of the era. Overall, the aircraft served as a pet project of the Disney family, boasting a layout designed by the couple before serving as their trusty runabout throughout the company’s most formative years. 

"We are so happy to have Walt’s plane make a ‘landing’ at the Palm Springs Air Museum, just a few miles from where Walt and his family had vacation homes at Smoke Tree Ranch,” said Walt Disney Archives director Rebecca Cline. “It is the ideal setting for this incredible icon.”

The Gulfstream I played a part in the creation of the Disney empire as a scouting aircraft used to select locations for Disney World, as well as ferrying personnel for the 1964 New York World's Fair. (Technically, a Gulfstream demo aircraft was the real survey aircraft, since N234MM was not delivered until the year afterward). A handful of Disney's long time attractions made their initial debut at the fair, like the "It's a Small World" ride that later came to roost at the company's sprawling attraction.

A private viewing party for the aircraft will be held on October 15th with Disney Archivist Ed Ovalle, with tickets available through the museum's website. Walt's December 5th birthday will mark the opening of a new exhibit featuring the history of the aircraft, showing its significance to company history and relevance to the Palm Springs Area. Once open, the exhibit will feature assorted memorabilia concerning the aircraft's distinguished service life. 

FMI: www.palmspringsairmuseum.org

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