Castle Air Museum Sacramento, CA
Castle Air Force Base was once a major Cold War bomber base for Strategic Air Command with nuclear bombers on ground alert, 24/7. The Cold War ended and the base was closed in 1995 but the museum lives on, and what a treat it is. “Never knew about it,” said one visitor of this excellent destination. “What a wonderful surprise!” said another. We agree.
The main museum is filled with display cases containing Cold War artifacts such as uniforms, signage, helmets, and scale models. There is a Norden bomb sight, a .50 caliber machine gun, and ready rooms brought here from the old air base complete with period furniture. The SAC legacy permeates everything and the displays remind us that SAC aircrews flew their missions fully armed least they get caught in the air by a surprise attack. For an interesting bonus, buy a ticket and walk through the DC-9 (VC-9) version of Air Force One. It was used by Presidents Reagan and Clinton, as well as various Vice Presidents and Cabinet members.
The outdoor air park is huge and clearly the main draw and the B-36 Peacemaker here make this particularly special. The B-36 bomber was designed when military planners thought Great Britain would fall to Nazi Germany and that the air war to liberate Europe would have to start from air bases in upstate New York. That never happened but after the war, the Cold War kicked off and this was the bomber that had the range SAC needed to strike the Soviet Union. To give you an idea of the size of the bomb it carried, there is a mock-up of a Mark 17 atomic bomb sitting right next to it. The B-36 anchors an excellent outdoor display of 70 military aircraft including a WWII-era B-17 and B-24 plus a B-47, which was our first jet bomber, and a B-52, a KC-135 tanker, an SR-71, a C-47, and a F-14, F-16, and F-16, plus numerous cargo, fighter, and attack aircraft.
Hours: Daily: 9am – 4pmVisit museum website