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Castle Air Museum
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Established 20 June 1981
Location 5050 Santa Fe Drive
Atwater, California 95301
Type Military aviation museum
Founder Gen. James P. McCarthy

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.

History and information

The museum opened with 12 aircraft on 20 June 1981 as a branch of the United States Air Force Museum system. When Castle Air Force Base was closed in April 1995 and became Castle Airport, the museum similarly became private. The loss of federal funding eventually caused financial problems for the museum.

It 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. 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. 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.

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).


Boeing B-29 SuperfortressCAM
Boeing B-29A Superfortress
Castle Air Museum Lockheed SR-71
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Convair RB-36H PeacemakerCAM
Convair RB-36H Peacemaker
Castle Air Museum B-50
Boeing B-50 Superfortress
Castle Air Museum B-23 Dragon
Douglas B-23 Dragon
Castle Air Museum Vulcan
Avro Vulcan
Castle Air Museum Boeing KC-97
Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter
Castle Air Museum Boeing B-47
Boeing B-47 Stratojet
Czech MiG-21 at CAM
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
F-102 Landing Gear Art at CAM
Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
Aircraft on Display
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 B-57 Canberra Strategic Bomber/Reconnaissance Jet 1951  United States
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
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 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 Sentinel
  • Bell H-13 Sioux
  • Ryan PT-22 Recruit
  • Fairchild PT-23
  • Schweizer SGS 1-26 (TG-3)
  • Cessna UC-78

Restoration efforts

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

  • Castle Air Museum Visitor's Guide
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