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CASTLE AIR MUSEUM
The Castle Air Museum in the California Central Valley opened in 1981, originally a collection of some left over aircraft from the base’s heyday parked near some unused hangars. Today the Museum as grown and developed into an amazing collection of WWII, Korea and Cold War era aircraft, displayed in a peaceful park like setting on the edge of the property dedicated to aviation history. The outdoor exhibit is eleven acres of some of the giants of the air power past rarely seen elsewhere. There are a few jet fighters at Castle Air Museum but the display focuses more on bombers and larger behemoths of the late Second World War and cold war.
There are the familiar and classic Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Mitchell B-25 made famous in Jimmy Doolittle’s raid over Tokyo and B-24 Liberator, but also much rarer B-29 Superfortress like that which dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the truly stunning transitional bomber which took the United States into the nuclear ere The Consolidated-Vultee B36 Peacemaker, the largest propellered bomber ever built. This ungainly behemoth, with its odd combination of rear facing propellers combined with four jet engines in end-wing pods was referred to as America’s “Big Stick” in the transition to the SAC nuclear era, familiar to anyone who has seen the Jimmy Stewart film “Strategic Air Command” Also here is a B-47 Stratojet, a Vietnam era B-52D and unique to America at Castle a British swept wing Avro Vulcan as seen in the James Bond movie “Thunderball”.
Among the jet fighter and fighter-bombers on view at the air museum are a North American F86 Sabre Jet the king of Korea’s Mig Alley, an F-100 Super-Sabre, the first American jet to exceed the sound barrier in level flight, two delta wing fighters of the 50’s the McDonnel F-101 Voodoo and Convair F-102 Delta Dagger and later F-106 Delta Dart. The Vietnam fighter-bomber workhorse Republic F-105 Thunderchief a General Dynamics F-111 and hands down the two coolest aircraft to come from the Lockheed “Skunkworks” the F-104 Starfighter and SR-71 Blackbird.
The museum’s indoor display presents history of the time and aircraft development, engines and a B-52 flight simulator cockpit and other flying memorabilia from WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the nuclear age. There is a café and gift shop where visitors can purchase aircraft models, clothing and insignia decals. The museum is located along old Highway 99 in Atwater, California, 8 miles north of Merced, off Bruhach Road exit of Interstate 99 and is open all year around except for 5 holidays, New Years Day, Christmas Day and Eve, Easter and Thanksgiving. © Bargain Travel West
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