Air Museum Is A Great Treasure Of Merced County

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
September 20, 2018

If one were to add up the hundreds of thousands of man (woman) hours devoted to making the Castle Air Museum one of the great treasures of Merced County, the numbers would be a mile long.
Those local people are still putting in more hours as this editorial piece goes to press.
The result is one of the best locations for military air history in the United States and it is right here in our own backyard. No one person, no one hundred people, not even a list of thousands would make up the roll call of those who have volunteered time and effort to make the museum come to life.
Occasionally, when there is an Open Cockpit Day, like there was the first week of this month, the work can be appreciated and hundreds turn out to see all the planes and some of the people who actually flew them.
Not all are military planes, like the one which served the president of the United States as Air Force One. Some of the planes like the British Vulcan Bomber were not even used by the United States, but were built for use in the Air Force of a foreign government.
Even more airplanes are being restored right now and remain out of sight in the hangers. They include the Supersonic Bomber, The Hustler and the Warning Star, which just came to Castle Air Museum last year.
Helping to bring everything together is the Chief Executive Officer Joe Pruzzo who is addicted to aircraft and the history which they have made in the life of mankind. He has the undivided support of a Board of Volunteer Directors.
Castle is best known for the B-52 bomber which flew from the base and continued to be used even after the base was closed in 1995. Even the KC-135 made its name at Castle for the air-to-air fueling which was so important in the Cold War and even the Gulf War. These planes and the men who flew them made their mark in history.
Each year it seems that volunteers from Castle Air Museum find one-of-a-kind airplanes located in the far ends of the United States, and somehow manage to get the where-with-all to transport that plane back to Castle for restoration.
There isn’t room in this editorial to salute all the people for the great works they have done. When they are long gone, their efforts to maintain the air history of this great nation will remain.
Youngsters will be able to see firsthand what these planes were like, instead of getting a canned version over the television.
It is time we honored these men and women who gave Merced County this legacy. Their efforts will long be remembered.
Every year, the Castle Air Museum holds several fundraisers to help defray the cost of upkeep and also the restoration of new planes which have been located and brought to the museum. Please join the other members of the county and the community at these events and honor all the great work which has been done at the Castle Air Museum.


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