Located on the former McClellan Air Force Base in North Highlands, the Aerospace Museum of California features an impressive collection of authentic civilian and military aircraft, along with replicas of space vehicles, thereby preserving the history of the base (which closed in 2001) and neighboring bases such as the non-operational Mather Air Force Base and the still active Beale Air Force Base east of Marysville. Many of the aircraft on display are on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The collection at the Aerospace Museum of California includes trainers, fighters, transport and specialized aircraft used by the Navy and USAF between 1940 and the year 2000, highlighting the fantastic progress of aerospace technology over this time period. Visitors will have the opportunity to view propeller driven bi-planes constructed from wood and cloth, contrasted with the triple-sonic, jet powered aircraft crafted from composite materials and metals. Helpful volunteers are always on hand to answer questions and offer interesting information on the museum’s collection and the history of aviation.
Items on display at the museum include one of the original Norden bomb sights used by American bombardiers in World War II, a collection of artworks relating to the US Coast Guard, and a range of restored engines. Visitors can discover what it feels like to be a pilot by means of the museums non-motion flight simulators and a Morphis motion ride simulator. The interactive science exhibit, Fun with Physics, allows participants of all ages to enjoy the wonders of scientific discovery with Mind Bogglers, Newton’s Laws, Simple Machines, Optical Illusions and Demonstrations.
The oldest aircraft in the collection is a 1932 Curtiss-Wright B-14-B ‘Speedwing’ bi-plane, which has been superbly restored. Other aircraft on display include:
Beech UC-45J Expediter
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger
Convair F-106 Delta Dart – The Ultimate Interceptor
Convair VC-131D Samaritan
Douglas A-1E Skyraider
Douglas C-54D Skymaster
Douglas C-53D Skytrooper
Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar
General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark
Grumman F-14D Tomcat
Grumman HU-16B Albatross
Grumman TS-2A Tracker
Lockheed EC-121D Warning Star
Lockheed F-80B Shooting Star
Lockheed F-104B Starfighter
Lockheed T-33A T-Bird
McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II
McDonnell-Douglas A-4C Skyhawk I
McDonnell F-101B Voodoo
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17PF Fresco E
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F Fishbed
North American F-86F Sabre
North American F-86L Dog Sabre
North American F-100D Super Sabre
North American T-6G Texan
North American T-28B Trojan
North American T-39A Sabreliner
Pitts Special S-1C
Republic F-84F ThunderStreak
Republic F-105D Thunderchief (THUD)
Sikorsky CH-3E Jolly Green Giant
Taylorcraft L-2M Grasshopper
Vought A-7D Corsair II
The Aerospace Museum of California also has an education program relating to math, science, technology and engineering for students from elementary school through to community college with all its programs meeting the California Education Standards. Moreover, the museum hosts special presentations featuring guest speakers who are experts in their fields, such as NASA astronauts Brian Duffy and Clayton Anderson.
Northrop Grumman recently recapped the company’s development schedule with regards to the development of the KC-45A that it has been developing for the US Air Force. The company has been hard at work testing the advanced fly-by-wire aerial refueling boom that is to be used in the aircraft and this aspect of the new KC-45A completed its 100th test flight last month.
The concept of propelling aircraft with nuclear power is not a new one. In 1946 the United States Air Force launched the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) program to further develop this concept. The program ran until 1961, when it was transferred to the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program which was also run by the United States Air Force. Unfortunately the program did not last long enough to see the first test flight of this type of aircraft.