Explore California’s Castle Air Museum
Located in Atwater, California, the Castle Air Museum originated with the closure of the Castle Air Force Base in 1994. A group of aviation enthusiasts in the area decided to take steps toward preserving the collection of aircraft at the base, and the non-profit organization, Castle Air Museum Foundation, Inc. was formed. The goal behind assuming custody of the aircraft was to restore them and make them available to the public to view. Through the dedicated efforts of volunteers and assisted by the United States Air Force’s Heritage Program, the dream of a museum became a reality and has become a popular attraction in this charming area of California.
The more than 120 different aircraft on display have been carefully restored and meticulously maintained so that current and future generations can view them and imagine what it must have been like to pilot them in battle situations. While noting that there is nothing glamorous about war, the Museum’s website states that its majestic warbirds nevertheless serve as a reminder of how fragile our freedom is, and how men and women stepped up when that freedom was threatened, providing a lesson that should not be forgotten. While all the airplanes are worthy of attention, some stand out as exceptional, such as the massive Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker; the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress; the Curtiss C-46D Commando; the Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar; the Douglas C-47A Skytrain; the Lockheed ST-71 Blackbird; the Republic F-105B Thunderchief; and the Northrop T-38 Talon. On a smaller scale are the Vultee BT-13 Valiant; the Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe; and the Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster. Current restoration projects include a Vietnam-era Douglas RA-3B Skywarrior which had been used by Raytheon and the navy for missile testing. Long-term plans for the museum include sourcing and restoring a P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt to add to the collection.
Named in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle, the Castle Air Museum is a fascinating memorial to the brave pilots and crews of World War II, the Vietnam Conflict and the Korean War and is well worth a visit by aviation enthusiasts.