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“Stay on pavement to avoid chiggers!” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Castle Air Museum

Castle Air Museum
5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater, CA
209 723-2178
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Ranked #1 of 2 Attractions in Atwater
Type: Specialty Museums, Museums
Attraction details
Southern California
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Stay on pavement to avoid chiggers!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2013

This is a fabulous attraction for airplane fanatics because it has rare old planes that fanatics only know from B/W photos. For other people, dusty old planes in an open field will have little appeal. However, there are some nice things to keep kids interested and the sheer size of some planes are worth seeing up close.

Possibly because I was there on a hot August day, I came away with a lot of chigger bites on my lower leg and feet. It is possible to see all the planes without leaving the pavement but I could not resist getting on grass to seeing some planes up close.

The planes are normally sealed up except on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

Although these planes will never fly again, ex-military staff have restored most of the planes on display to service ready conditions, the huge 10 engined B-36 being a notable exception of being a work in progress. Most of the restoration work is done in hangers that you pass by heading east on Apron Ave within the airport complex. Doors to hangers on south side of Apron Ave would be open when there are people working there.

Visited August 2013
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73 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
San Diego, CA
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Not just for airplane buffs”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2013

Over 56 different aircraft on display with some amazing history. Most of the museum is outdoors, there is a small building that houses memorabilia and other exhibits, gift shop, and cafe. If it's summertime I would get there early since most of what you'll be looking at is outdoors. Most of the people you'll see working there are volunteers (retired pilots and engineers), for them this museum is truly a labor of love. In front of each aircraft there's a display and for $1.50 you can purchase the Visitors Guide that explains the general history of each aircraft and the specific history of the aircraft that is on display. My kids enjoyed seeing the planes up close. My husband and I both enjoyed it as well - alot of good historical value, not just for airplane buffs.

Visited August 2013
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England
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Wow!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

This place is a real gem. You can tell that the staff and volunteers have a real passion for the exhibits, and are determined that all visitors have a great time. The collection itself is quite amazing - obviously the majority are US planes, but some interesting British planes, and it's the first time I've seen a Flying Fortress, Super Fortress and Strato Fortress together, but all dwarfed by the Convair RB-36 Peacemaker.

Visited June 2013
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Sacto area
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“GREAT and always getting better still.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2013

Outstanding collection of military aircraft you can get close to--even enter, sit, crawl in. Has famous planes such as B-52, B-47, B-17, B-24, B-29, B-25, B-26, F-86, F-105...even a huge and very rare B-36. And a rare Vulcan delta-wing Brit. bomber. Cargo planes C-46, C-47, C-54, C-119; airborne refuelers--prop and jet. On Open Cockpit days ex-pilots are by and in planes to talk and inform (some favs: Dallas H., B-52 pro, sqdn cdr; Al Osborn AC; tailgunner Scotty--ask him about the SAM missile he "didn't like"). Food is available but lines, in and outside the store. Buildings are air conditioned & have many books & videos, models.

I wonder if any West Coast or near place has such an aircraft collection and staff. Perhaps Wright-Patterson AFB museum or Smithsonian.

All is open, except aircraft interiors, 7 days a week, I believe is correct (plz ck). Guess is that only Open Cockpit days are so very busy. Free parking and plenty & close, on grounds. An SR-71 Blackbird is in the parking lot! Being partly hidden by trees keeps it from being a better advertisement for the place. (Why not move it, staff, to a central spot more visible from the nearby roads and put more parking where it is now.)

Visited May 2013
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Santa Barbara, CA
Top Contributor
218 reviews 218 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 153 cities Reviews in 153 cities
170 helpful votes 170 helpful votes
“Mostly outdoor displays of aircraft”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2013

They have about every WWII and newer warplane displayed outdoors. It is a shame they can't be inside and protected from the weather but it a great museum for memories.

Visited November 2012
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