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Disney Announces Restoration of Walt Disney’s Plane to Its 1960s Design

Walt Disney's Plane

During an event to celebrate Walt Disney’s 121st birthday, it was announced that the Palm Springs Air Museum, in conjunction with Phoenix Air, will restore and recreate the interior of Walt Disney’s plane, the Gulfstream I, to resemble what it looked like when Walt flew it in the 1960s.

The Exhibit

Walt’s Grumman Gulfstream I airplane is currently at the Palm Springs Air Museum on a long-term loan from The Walt Disney Archives for an exhibit that highlights the history of the plane, showcasing its significance to The Walt Disney Company’s history, and its relevance to the Palm Springs area.

The plane journeyed from D23 Expo 2022 in Anaheim, California, to Palm Springs, California, in September, and rarely exhibited items from the interior of the aircraft – also known affectionately as “The Mouse” – are also now on display for visitors to the Palm Springs Air Museum.

These items include a customized instrument panel originally located near Walt’s favorite onboard seat that allowed him to monitor flight conditions; a telephone handset that gave Walt a direct line of communication to the pilot in the cockpit; and a flight bag featuring an image of Mickey Mouse sitting on the tail of the iconic plane.

Walt Disney's plane - instrument panel

The Restoration

The restoration of Walt’s plane is anticipated to take approximately two years.

Palm Springs Air Museum Vice Chairman Fred Bell said during the announcement, “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.”

Walt Disney's plane - interior

The History

In 1963, Walt acquired the iconic Gulfstream that would come to be known as “The Mouse.”

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, becoing 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 grounded.

Walt Disney’s Grumman Gulfstream I Airplane