Historical Aircraft Collection Threatened by Heavy Rains Print
News - Local
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 21:29
ATWATER, CA: Early Tuesday morning, Executive Director of the Castle Air Museum Joe Pruzzo inspected the Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft which was part of the 93rd Bomb Group in WWII. The B-24 is on display at Castle Museum.

The 93rd Bomb Group was instrumental in the destruction of the Nazi Oil Refineries at Ploesti Romania, thus crippling the Nazi war machine. This was accomplished with heavy loss of life and aircraft, some flying at tree top heights to escape Nazi fighter aircraft. This and all of the aircraft at the museum serve as a living testimonial to the heroic and valiant efforts of America’s Greatest Generation. What the Nazis couldn’t destroy is now threatened by Central California weather.
 

Like many historic aircraft on display on the museum grounds, the B-24 is exposed to weather at all times day and night. Constant monitoring and repair is necessary, especially at times when weather conditions turn nasty.

Now heavy Valley storms have brought renewed urgency to the museum’s efforts to create permanent housing for historic aircraft, including the B-24.Storm warnings have been issued again this week for the entire Central Valley, including Atwater, home to this historic national museum. Pruzzo explains, "These planes are artifacts, and are not meant to withstand excessive outdoor exposure.”

"Between the blistering heat, and now the return of real rain, our fears for the viability of these aircraft are increasing,” Pruzzo said. “If we don't get them out of the weather and indoor on display soon, we could start to encounter serious maintenance and structural problems putting the collection at risk.”Leaders at Castle Air Museum have begun the planning phase for the construction of a large hangar that will hold the B-24 as well as their Presidential Aircraft (formerly Air Force One), and several other irreplaceable historic aircraft.

The hangar will provide protection as well as a new and enjoyable museum experience for visitors. Pruzzo estimates it will cost around $4.9 million to construct the structure. The museum also plans to incorporate meeting space within the hanger to provide opportunities for education and for the community to hold events in this unique setting. The fundraising effort is expected to begin late spring 2017.

“These flying sentinels and the men and women who flew them protected the American way of life. Now it’s time for us to return the favor. These planes educate future generations on the sacrifices made to defend our freedom.” Pruzzo said.

The museum is located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater, adjacent to the former Castle Air Force Base. For more information, please visit CastelAirMuseum.org  ####