Castle Air Museum2

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A trip to an outdoor museum of airplanes from the first plane to present day planes.

A trip to an outdoor museum of airplanes from the first plane to present day planes.

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  • Introduction: everyone introduce yourselves. We did our project on the Castle Air Museum. It’s located on Santa Fe Drive, in Atwater at the old Castle Air Force Base.
  • The CAM opened in 1981 and was forced to become self-sufficient in 1994 when the Castle AFB closed. Every since then they have been using an all volunteer workforce. Their mission is to preserve military aviation heritage for current and future generations. This building houses the Gift Shop and the Café.
  • Upon arrival, this is the first plane you will see because it sits outside the museum, by the picnic area. CAN ANYONE GUESS THE NAME OF THIS PLANE? The SR-71 was a reconnaissance plane designed to spy from over 80,000 feet. It can fly faster than Mach 3. None were ever lost to hostile fire. (Retired in 1990.)
  • When we got there Jamie was waiting in front. He was stuck.
  • Then Joe got in and Brooke climbed on back.
  • This is the Gift Shop and also the entrance to the museum. You pay the cashier, turn to your left, and walk through an ordinary glass door (kinda like leaving 7-11.)
  • The museum is on 11 acres. It was sunny, HOT, and there was no shade. The water fountains were broken. It was like hiking in a desert. After walking for a while we needed to get out of the sun. We found a shady spot under the KC-135. Notice that all the airplanes have a chain fence around them to keep people out.
  • We took a few risks so we could get some interesting shots. Fortunately the museum was deserted so no one noticed.
  • Here we are taking more risks so you will enjoy our presentation a little more.
  • The lawn was a mess. Half the grass was dead, and the other half was full of weeds. You can see a pile of red rocks in the background. That’s just one example of all the little jobs that were unfinished throughout the entire museum.
  • This C-131 is in the process of being restored. All the airplanes weren’t as dirty as this one. But almost all the planes were in varying states of decay. There was a lot of rust, broken glass, and faded paint.
  • The indoor museum was also deserted. Behind this huge engine, you can see how dim the lighting was. It was also hot in there, and the air was stale. It reminded me of a garage, full of stuff that needed sorting. But there were a few cool things in there. Like this giant airplane engine
  • and this .50 caliber machine gun.
  • The Castle Café is where you end your tour of the museum. The café was closed due to the brunch that morning. Their special is called the bomber burger. (That sounds like trouble to me.)
  • When you leave the café you are back in the Gift Shop. They sell all the usual souvenirs like clothes, books, and videos. The pictures on the wall are signed by historical figures and contain parts from the actual plane. They sell for over $300. (Every square inch of the museum showed evidence of a lack of funds.
  • CAM: who are the visitors? There weren’t that many. (GUESS THE PLANE FOR SOME CANDY) (Answer: B-52) (after they guess right, click to show answer)
  • Some groups who visit the CAM are school groups, families, history buffs, aviation enthusiasts, and weary travelers (RV-ers). This is the Douglas A-4 SkyHawk. It was one of the only clean airplanes there. The A-4s served on Aircraft Carriers. It was retired by the Navy in 2003.
  • There was an omelet brunch that morning. A lot of people showed up for the food. It was very crowded. About half were affiliated with the military service in one way or another. It ended at 1:00 PM and everyone went home.
  • When we arrived at 2:00 PM everyone was gone, except for one woman who was cleaning up, an ROTC cadet waiting for a ride, and the cashier in the Gift Shop. This bomb was at the entrance to the museum.
  • There was a group of six retired bikers all dressed in black leather. We walked past them once. This is the F-14 Tomcat (Strike Fighter). The F-14 has all weather attack capabilities. It can fire Phoenix and Sparrow missiles, the M-61 gun and Sidewinder missiles. It can also fire various laser-guided bombs. It is also equipped with the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod system for spying.
  • The indoor museum was deserted. There were fingerprints all over the glass.. So either they recently had visitors or if they just never clean their glass.
  • No one was there when we were. Schools go to other places now. They only get one or two trips a year and they prefer to go other places. The teachers guide has not been available for years due to lack of use. It looks like their popularity is waning.
  • CAM: Consumption benefits (Lots of cool planes) The B-52 on top. Bottom: The B-45 Tornado (Bomber) was the first jet bomber in production. It served from 1948 to 1958. It is the oldest jet in the museum.
  • There is a lot of history there. This sign from the Indoor museum is cool. It shows “1909 The army bought its first airplane from the Wright Brothers.” (NOTICE THE SCOTCH TAPE)
  • They are open 363 days per year. Only closed on New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The entrance fees are low; souvenirs are high.
  • Open Cockpit day occurs twice per year—one on Memorial Day (May) and one in September. The cockpit is open on the most popular planes including the haunted B-29. Halloween Fright Night: Radio station is putting on a haunted house. there will be 4 bands, flashlight tours, and venders. Christmas Plane Lane: The place is lit up, Santa is there, the café is open, it gets better every year.
  • The café did not look too impressive. Since they were closed, we did not get to sample the food.
  • A lot of walking is good for the heart.
  • The door to the indoor Museum, some stuff inside of the museum. Rosie the Riviter, General Castle, an old B-52 simulator, the BT-13 Valiant (Trainer) was used during WWII the first airplane used at Merced Army Air Field (Castle AFB)
  • The website has some great pictures and information about the museum.
  • The gift shop has a few models (looked like unsold leftovers), clothing, books videos souvenirs, and more.
  • for RVs, there are 6 full hookup spaces and 12 dry camp spaces
  • They have new projects they are working on for the future. An F-15 and a T-39
  • Lots of cool planes. This is the British Vulcan Bomber. It went into operation in 1952. The first bomber to use a delta wing.
  • The B-36 Bomber was the largest ever built at the time. They served as America’s nuclear deterrent in the 1950’s. It could carry 72,000 lbs of conventional and/or nuclear bombs.
  • The C-46 served in Asia during WWII. They carried cargo over the Himalayas between India and China. Each time they flew “the Hump” its ground crew painted a camel on its nose. This C-46 flew 45 missions “Over the Hump”.
  • The B-17 Flying Fortress (Bomber) is associated with the Allied effort to defeat the Nazi Germany. General Frederick W. Castle, for whom the base was named, was shot down in a B-17.
  • The F-106 Delta Dart (Fighter) was stationed at Castle Air Force Base, starting in 1958, could reach Mach 2 and served in the Vietnam war and patrolled the West Coast during the Cold War. The F-105 Thunderchief (Fighter) was a supersonic singe-seat fighter-bomber able to deliver heavy loads of bombs, rockets, and nukes at high speeds and over long ranges. It began service in 1955 and played a vital role in Vietnam.
  • The F-104 Starfigher (Fighter) was nicknamed “Missile with a Man In It”. It was a high performance airplane. It was the first fighter capable of sustained speeds above Mach 2 and first to hold the record for speed and altitude simultaneously. F-100 Super Sabre (Fighter) was the first fighter to exceed the speed of sound in level flight. This F-100 was used for high speed research at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. (Served 1955-1962)
  • Can anyone guess the name of the plane on top? (Another picture of the F-14) The B-57 Canberra (Bomber) was made by English Electric Co. was Built under license by Martin, the US version is the only non-US design adopted since WWII. B-57 served in Vietnam in 1965. This one was used for Reconnaissance.
  • The KC-97 StratoFreighter (Tanker) was designed in 1943. It had jet engines on the outboard wings so it could use shorter runways. It could hold 15,000 gallons of fuel. Retired in 1977. This one was flown in from Arizona.
  • The WB-50 Superfortress (Bomber/Reconnaissance) was a modified version of the B-29 developed in the late 1940s. A B-50 made the first non-stop flight around the world. It was the last propeller-driven bomber for the United States. This B-50 was assigned to the Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at McClellan AFB in Sacramento where it performed atmospheric sampling after soviet nuclear weapons tests. The B-50 retired in 1964.
  • The B-52 Stratofortress (Bomber) was the largest, heaviest aircraft ever flown. Used during the Vietnam War. Equipped with ground-mapping radar. Able to carry 84 internal and 24 external 500/750 lbs bombs. 94 B-52s continue to serve. It’s BIG!
  • CAM: Suggested Improvements
  • Which one is the haunted airplane?
  • This is a picture of the haunted B-29, RAZ ‘N HELL. The B-29 was the first bomber to have pressurized crew compartments. The B-29 Enola Gay and Bockscar were the only aircraft to drop atomic weapons in wartime (August 1945).
  • Hire landscapers to design a nice park, build, and maintain it.
  • These are some of the cloth covered planes in the hidden collection and an old chopper.
  • The C-119 Flying Boxcar (Cargo) saw extensive use in the Korean War. Some were used for midair retrieval of imagery packages from orbiting Corona satellites. Some were used as gunships in the Vietnam War. C-119s were retired in 1975. This one was most recently used by the US Forest Service as a fire-fighter.
  • Get some bright compact florescent lights in the museum to brighten that place up. When you can see, start painting and fixing, and then start throwing out the junk. Only keep the good stuff.
  • Fix the Google Maps address. Joe got lost. He was on Hospital Rd. Probably because of this map. The real address is 5050 Santa Fe Drive.
  • The volunteers aren’t cutting it. Stop using volunteers for everything. Offer guided tours that tell stories about the planes, especially the haunted B-29. Fix everything up. It looked like everything needed a fresh coat of paint. Hire an interior designer for the museum and other buildings.


  • 1. Brooke Bissett Michael Shields Jaime Lizarraga Joe Wisner
  • 2. CAM What was it like?
  • 3. SR-71 Blackbird
  • 4.  
  • 5.  
  • 6. Gift Shop and Entrance
  • 7. Sunny, HOT, and No Shade
  • 8.  
  • 9. KC-135
  • 10. Dead Grass Everywhere
  • 11. Dirty Airplanes
  • 12. The Indoor Museum
  • 13. Indoor Museum
  • 14. The Castle Café
  • 15. Gift Shop
  • 16. CAM Who are the visitors? B-52 Stratofortress
  • 17. Some groups who visit CAM
    • School groups
    • Families
    • History buffs
    • Aviation enthusiasts
    • Weary travelers
  • 18. That morning there was an omelet brunch
    • There were a lot of people
    • About half of them wore military uniforms
    Families 4 Adults (18 – 59) 20 Seniors (60 & over) 12 Youths (6 – 17) 20 Children (5 & under) 5
  • 19. By 2:00 PM, when we arrived
    • The place was deserted
    • There were only a few stragglers
    • Soon they were gone too
    • We briefly encountered two groups
  • 20. Who we saw
    • Bikers
    • Old couple
  • 21. The indoor museum was deserted
    • Plastic model with shot glasses
    • Fingerprints on glass
  • 22. How Popular is the CAM?
    • Does not appear popular at all
    • They no longer get any school groups
    • The Teachers Guide is no longer available
  • 23. CAM Consumption benefits
  • 24.  
  • 25. Low Price and Open Every Day
    • Entrance Fees:
    • Adults:   $10.00     
    • Seniors:   $8.00     
    • Youths: $8.00     
    • Children:   Free     
    • Military Personnel: Free
    • Hours Of Operation
    • (Daily)
    • May 1 - October 31:  
    • 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
    • November 1 - April 30:  
    • 10:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
  • 26. Special Events
    • December
    • 12: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 13: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 14: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 19: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 20: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 21: Christmas Plane Lane
    • 22: Christmas Plane Lane
    Open Cockpit Day
  • 27. Good Food (maybe)
  • 28. Walking is good for you
  • 29. An educational and entertaining stroll through the past
  • 30. Website
  • 31. Gift Shop
    • Aircraft models
    • Clothing
    • Books
    • Videos
    • Souvenirs
  • 32. RV Parking and Camping
  • 33. New Projects
  • 34. Lots of cool planes
  • 35. B-36 Peacemaker
  • 36. C-46
  • 37. B-17
  • 38. F-106 Delta Dart F-105 Thunderchief
  • 39. F-104 Starfighter F-100 Super Sabre
  • 40. F-14 Tomcat B-57 Canberra
  • 41. KC-97
  • 42. WB-50 Superfortress
  • 43. B-52
  • 44. CAM Suggested Improvements
  • 45. Which one is haunted? B-17 B-24 WB-50 B-29
  • 46. More info about planes
    • Large signs describing planes
    • Point out the haunted plane
  • 47. Make every day open cockpit day
  • 48. Hire Professional Landscapers
  • 49. Display the Hidden Collection
  • 50. Hire Professionals to Clean the Planes
  • 51. Better Lighting
  • 52.  
  • 53. Raise Money
    • Stop using volunteers for everything
    • Offer guided tours that
      • tell stories about the airplanes
        • especially the haunted B-29
    • Fix everything up – make it more appealing
  • 54. Questions