Castle Air Museum
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|Location||5050 Santa Fe Drive
Atwater, California 95301
Castle Air Museum is a military aviation museum located in Atwater, California, United States adjacent to the site of the former Castle Air Force Base. It is one of the largest aerospace museums displaying vintage aircraft in the western United States.
History and information
The museum opened in 1981, and currently displays over 60 restored World War II, Korean War, Cold War, and modern era aircraft. The outdoor museum covers 11 acres (45,000 m2), and among the exhibit highlights are a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird (one of only 19 surviving), a Boeing B-52D Stratofortress, and the massive, ten-engined Convair RB-36, one of only four surviving and the largest mass-produced piston aircraft in history. An indoor museum features photographs, uniforms, war memorabilia, aircraft engines, and a flight deck. A crew of volunteers restores and maintains the aircraft on display. The museum also hosts a periodic Open House in which visitors can view the interiors of certain planes.
In May 2008, the museum reached its 50th displayed aircraft milestone with the addition of a Douglas A-4L Skyhawk. The aircraft was shipped to the museum in August 2006, and restored at a cost of $12,000.
In October 2013, the Museum received a retired VC-9C aircraft that had previously served during several administrations as an alternate Air Force One and Air Force Two aircraft when use of the primary VC-137 or VC-25 was impractical. Labeled as a “mobile flying White House”, Mark Hendrickson, Director of the Merced County Department of Commerce, Aviation and Economic Development Department, said residents need to view the air museum as an economic development opportunity, especially when a plane of this stature is added to the collection.
Vice Presidents such as Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and First Ladies such as Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Hillary Clinton, as well as Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, were among the individuals who used the plane.
Hidden aircraft collection
Castle Air Museum has several aircraft that cannot be displayed outdoors, as their fabric coverings do not hold up in the San Joaquin Valley weather. The museum is working to raise funds for a suitable building to display these and other items that they do not currently have indoor space to display.
- Piper L-4
- Stinson L-5
- Bell H-13
- Ryan PT-22 Recruit
- Fairchild PT-23
- Schweizer SGS 1-26 (TG-3)
- Cessna UC-78
The museum has recently received several exhibits which are currently under restoration before they will be displayed on the museum grounds:
- Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon
- Boeing CH-47D Chinook
- North American F-84D Thunderjet
- Douglas SBD Dauntless divebomber
Alleged paranormal occurrences
The B-29A Superfortress exhibit is reported to be haunted by a spirit named "Arthur." Museum management has reported that visitors, including paranormal investigators, have heard knocking and footsteps from inside the plane. In addition, lights in the aircraft have been known to turn on and off, and the propellers are known to turn even though they are locked in place. An apparition has been photographed on several occasions, and paranormal researchers have detected anomalous readings on equipment. The paranormal occurrences have been featured on an episode of UPN's Real Ghosts (1995).
Aircraft on display
Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan
- Castle Air Museum Visitor's Guide
- Compass Maps: Merced, Atwater, Merced County
- City of Atwater -- Approved Annexations
- Keeler, Guy (2008-04-08). "A safe landing". Fresno Bee. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- Yawger 2013.“Former Air Force One Lands in Atwater.” Merced Sun-Star 16 Oct. 2013:n.pag. Merced Sun-Star. Web. 5 Mary 2014.
- Yawger 2013. “Former Air Force One Lands in Atwater.” Merced Sun-Star 16 Oct. 2013:n.pag. Merced Sun-Star. Web. 5 Mary 2014.
- Castle Air Museum - Hidden Aircraft Collection
- Ghost Trackers article on the allegedly haunted B29 at Castle Air Museum
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