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Castle Air Museum

Castle Air Museum is a military aviation museum located in Atwater, California, United States adjacent to Castle Airport, a former United States Air Force Strategic Air Command base which was closed in 1995, after the end of the Cold War. It is one of the largest aerospace museums displaying vintage aircraft in the western United States.

Castle Air Museum
CAM Foundation.PNG
Castle Air Museum is located in California
Castle Air Museum
Location within California
Castle Air Museum is located in the United States
Castle Air Museum
Castle Air Museum (the United States)
Location5050 Santa Fe Drive
Atwater, California 95301
Coordinates37°21′53″N 120°34′41″W / 37.36475°N 120.577944°W / 37.36475; -120.577944
TypeMilitary Aviation

History and informationEdit

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-71 Blackbird (one of only 19 surviving), a Boeing B-52D Stratofortress, and the massive, ten-engined Convair RB-36H Peacemaker, one of only four surviving and the largest mass-produced piston aircraft in history. An indoor museum features artifacts, photographs, uniforms, war memorabilia, aircraft engines, and a restored B-52 Stratofortress flight deck. A crew of volunteers restores and maintains the aircraft on display.[1] 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.[1]

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.[2][3] 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.[4]


Aircraft on Display[5]
Name Role Class Introduced Country of Origin
Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Interceptor Jet 1952   Canada
Avro Vulcan B.2 Strategic Bomber Jet 1956   United Kingdom
Beech C-45G Expeditor Utility Propeller 1937   United States
Beechcraft YT-34 Mentor Trainer Propeller 1953   United States
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Bomber Propeller 1937   United States
Boeing B-29A Superfortress Bomber Propeller 1944   United States
Boeing B-47E Stratojet Strategic Bomber Jet 1951   United States
Boeing B-52D Stratofortress Strategic Bomber Jet 1955   United States
Boeing CH-47D Chinook Transport Helicopter 1962   United States
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker Tanker Jet 1957   United States
Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter Tanker Propeller 1951   United States
Boeing WB-50 Superfortress Bomber/Weather Reconnaissance Propeller 1948   United States
Cessna O-2A Skymaster Observation Propeller 1967   United States
Cessna T-37B Tweet Trainer Jet 1957   United States
Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe Utility Propeller 1957   United States
Consolidated B-24M Liberator Bomber Propeller 1941   United States
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger Interceptor Jet 1956   United States
Convair F-106A Delta Dart Interceptor Jet 1959   United States
Convair HC-131 Samaritan Transport Propeller 1950   United States
Convair RB-36H Peacemaker Strategic Bomber/Reconnaissance Jet/Propeller 1949   United States
Convair B-58A Hustler Strategic Bomber Jet 1960   United States
Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger Trainer Jet 1956   United States
Curtiss C-46D Commando Transport Propeller 1941   United States
de Haviland Canada L-20 Beaver Utility Propeller 1948   Canada
Douglas A-26B Invader Bomber Propeller 1943   United States
Douglas A-4L Skyhawk Attack Fighter Jet 1956   United States
Douglas B-18 Bolo Bomber Propeller 1936   United States
Douglas B-23 Dragon Bomber Propeller 1939   United States
Douglas C-47 Skytrain Transport Propeller 1941   United States
Douglas R5D-4 Skymaster Transport Propeller 1942   United States
Douglas RA-3B Skywarrior Strategic Bomber Jet 1956   United States
Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar Transport Propeller 1949   United States
Fairchild C-123K Provider Transport Propeller 1956   United States
General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon Fighter Jet 1978   United States
General Dynamics FB-111A Aardvark Strategic Bomber Jet 1967   United States
Grumman F-14D Tomcat Fighter Jet 1974   United States
Grumman HU-16B Albatross Amphibious Rescue Propeller 1949   United States
Grumman S-2 Tracker Anti-submarine Warfare Propeller 1954   United States
Kaman HH-43B Huskie Firefighting/Search and Rescue Helicopter 1953   United States
Kawasaki KAQ-1 UAV/Target Drone Propeller 1950   Japan
Lockheed C-130A Hercules Transport Propeller 1954   United States
Lockheed C-56 Loadstar Transport Propeller 1940   United States
Lockheed F-104B Starfighter Interceptor Jet 1958   United States
Lockheed F-80B Shooting Star Fighter Jet 1945   United States
Lockheed F-94A Starfire Interceptor Jet 1950   United States
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon Bomber/Maritime Patrol Propeller 1941   United States
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Strategic Reconnaissance Jet 1966   United States
Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star Trainer Jet 1948   United States
Martin EB-57A Canberra/Intruder Strategic Bomber/Reconnaissance Jet 1951   United Kingdom
McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle Fighter Jet 1976   United States
McDonnell Douglas VC-9C Executive Transport Jet 1968   United States
McDonnell F-101B Voodoo Fighter Jet 1957   United States
McDonnell F-4E Phantom Fighter Jet 1960   United States
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fighter/Interceptor Jet 1956   Soviet Union
North American AT-6 Texan Trainer Propeller 1937   United States
North American B-25J Mitchell Bomber Propeller 1941   United States
North American B-45A Tornado Strategic Bomber Jet 1948   United States
North American F-100 Super Sabre Fighter Jet 1954   United States
North American F-86H Sabre Fighter Jet 1949   United States
North American RA-5C Vigilante Strategic Bomber/Reconnaissance Jet 1961   United States
North American T-39 Saberliner Trainer/Utility Jet 1962   United States
Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler Electronic Warfare Jet 1971   United States
Northrop F-89J Scorpion Interceptor Jet 1950   United States
Northrop T-38 Talon Trainer Jet 1961   United States
Republic F-105B Thunderchief Fighter Bomber Jet 1958   United States
Republic F-84C Thunderjet Fighter Bomber Jet 1947   United States
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak Fighter Bomber Jet 1954   United States
Ryan BQM-34 UAV/Target Drone Jet 1955   United States
Saab J35 Draken Fighter Jet 1960   Sweden
Vought RF-8G Crusader Fighter/Reconnaissance Jet 1957   United States
Vultee BT-13 Valiant Trainer Propeller 1939   United States
Complementary Exhibits [5]
Name Type
AGM-28 Hound Dog Cruise Missile
GAM-63 Rascal Nuclear Air-to-Surface Missile
MB-1C B-58 Nuclear Weapons Pod
MK. 17 Thermonuclear Bomb
NASA "Hyperglider" Experimental Vehicle
Norden Mk. XV Declassified Bombsight

Hidden aircraft collectionEdit

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.[6]

Restoration effortsEdit

The museum has recently received several aircraft which are currently under restoration before they will be displayed on the museum grounds:[7]

Alleged paranormal occurrencesEdit

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.[8] The paranormal occurrences have been featured on an episode of UPN's Real Ghosts (1995).

Photo galleryEdit



  1. ^ a b Keeler, Guy (2008-04-08). "A safe landing". Fresno Bee. Archived from the original on 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Yawger 2013.“Former Air Force One Lands in Atwater.” Merced Sun-Star 16 Oct. 2013:n.pag. Merced Sun-Star. Web. 5 Mary 2014.
  4. ^ Yawger 2013. “Former Air Force One Lands in Atwater.” Merced Sun-Star 16 Oct. 2013:n.pag. Merced Sun-Star. Web. 5 Mary 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Castle Air Museum Aircraft Collection". Castle Air Museum. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  6. ^ Castle Air Museum – Hidden Aircraft Collection Archived 2010-01-29 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Current Projects". Castle Air Museum. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  8. ^ Ghost Trackers article on the allegedly haunted B29 at Castle Air Museum Archived 2007-08-12 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit