Castle Air Museum is one of the largest aviation museums on the West Coast and is located in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, adjacent to the former Castle Air Force Base (now Castle Airport). The museum opened to the public in 1981 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission “to preserve military aviation heritage for future generations.” Today the museum has evolved into a premier destination for families, history buffs, schools, tourists, and aviation enthusiasts alike.
To maintain the museum and to acquire aircraft requires a constant fundraising effort, as the museum does not receive any funds from government sources. It is because of the enthusiasm and generosity of local businesses, individuals, volunteers, and members that Castle Air Museum has developed into a premier showcase of our nation’s military aeronautical history.
Our collection encompasses over seventy restored vintage military aircraft ranging from pre-WWII to the present on approximately twenty acres of beautifully-maintained grounds. Locating, restoring, preserving and displaying these historic treasures is a real challenge. Often, an aircraft is acquired in pieces from diverse locations, shipped to the museum, and under the direction of knowledgeable volunteers, lovingly restored to its former grandeur.
In addition to our outdoor displays, the museum is complemented by an indoor museum which houses a fascinating collection of wartime memorabilia including aircraft engines, military uniforms, historic photos, and personal military artifacts from the past century.
General Castle was awarded the Medal Of Honor posthumously for his actions while leading a 2,000-aircraft bomber formation over Europe on December 24, 1944. General Castle was born on October 14, 1908, in Manila, Philipines. After serving two years in the New Jersey National Guard, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. After graduating from the academy in June 1930, he was assigned to the Air Corps for flight training at March Field, California, and Kelly Field, Texas and completed his training in October 1931.
General Castle served as a pilot and Assistant Operations Officer with the 17th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan, until February 1934 when he resigned and returned to civilian life, holding reserve status with the New York National Guard. Reentering active service in January 1942, General Castle was one of eight officers selected to accompany Major General Ira Eaker to England to form the Eighth Air Force.
Promoted to Colonel, he took command of the 94th Bomb Group and in April 1944, he became the commanding officer of the 4th Combat Bomb Wing. He led many combat missions, including a mission to Refensburg and in November 1944 he was promoted to Brigadier General.
On December 24, 1944, on his 30th bombing mission, General Castle was killed while leading an air division of B-17's over Liege, Belgium. En route to the target, his plane lost an engine, forcing him to drop from the lead of the formation and his aircraft was then attacked by German fighters. Since he was flying over friendly troops on the ground, General Castle refused to jettison his bombs to gain speed. All of the crew, except General Castle and the pilot were able to escape before the plane exploded.