Planes of Fame Founder Edward T. Maloney Dies

Pioneer achieved his life mission of keeping vintage warbirds flying.

Edward T. Maloney
Edward T. Maloney, founder of the Planes of Fame Museum, has died at the age of 88.Courtesy Planes of Fame

One of the pioneers of the preservation of vintage airplanes, Edward T. Maloney, has died at the age of 88. Maloney has been credited with saving more than 200 WWII warbirds from destruction and founding the Planes of Fame Museum, which is home to more than 150 historic airplanes and replicas, many of which continue to fly to this day, with locations in Chino, California, and Valle, Arizona.

Maloney grew up in Southern California during its aviation heyday, when Douglas, Lockheed, Convair, North American, Northrop and Vultee all had factories there. In the 1940s he would watch warbirds flying around his home before, during and after WWII. After the war, he salvaged many aircraft manuals and airplanes from being destroyed.

“It was that realization, that my children and grandchildren might never get to see these beautiful aircraft fly, that the engines that roared over my house would be silenced, that the men who flew them so valiantly would not be able to show their families the wonderful craft that had carried them safely home. I just couldn’t live with that, “ Maloney said in a note on the Planes of Fame website.

With a remarkable vision for a man who at the time was in his 20s, Maloney founded the museum in Claremont, California, in January 1957. The museum first moved to Ontario Airport and then to the Chino Airport, where it has been located since 1973.

Were it not for Maloney, a long list of rare and unique airplanes, such as the Northrop N-9MB Flying Wing, original Mitsubishi Zero and Shutsui airplanes, and Boeing P-12E and P-26A — the world’s only flying Peashooter — would likely have been gone long ago. Other notable original flying airplanes include three P-51 Mustangs, a Vought F4U Corsair, a Curtis P-40 Warhawk and a North American F-86F Sabre jet, to name a few. A Boeing B-17 bomber is currently being restored to flying condition.

Although Maloney is now gone, Planes of Fame will likely live on for generations to come. Its current president, Steve Hinton, is a passionate aviator who is committed to continuing the museum’s mission of preserving history, inspiring the next generation of aviators, honoring the veterans and educating the public. Hinton’s son Steven Hinton Jr. has inherited the aviation bug, and both father and son have won the Unlimited class at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, multiple times.