Castle Air Museum Expands Aircraft Collection with Addition of Vintage Helicopters

Feb. 21, 2022

Feb. 20—ATWATER — Atwater

Castle Air Museum has received a delivery of two new aircraft that will become part of its collection of military planes and helicopters on display in Atwater.

Castle Air Museum Chief Executive Officer Joe Pruzzo said the Bell AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter and a Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk helicopter were acquired from Hawaii.

The Cobra was used by the Marine Corps in the Battle of Khafji during Operation Desert Storm. The Seahawk was a Navy helicopter that performed missions in Somalia.

The two additions "are really significant to us," Pruzzo said, because they're pieces of modern combat history to educate today's youth and future generations.

He said the aircraft bring a whole new dimension to the museum. "The fact that we're building the rotary wing or helicopter section of the museum to have its own display representing all four or the flying services of this nation is huge," said Pruzzo.

About 50,000 people visit Castle Air Museum annually, with about 30% of the visitors coming from abroad, according to Pruzzo.

"That's all money and dollars spent here in Merced county. And it puts Merced County — not only the museum but Merced County — on the map globally for the aviation enthusiast that Castle Air Museum has the finest selection of military aircraft on the west coast and it's right here in our backyard," Pruzzo said.

Though the aircraft may require some exterior paint and touch-ups, they arrived in Merced County with show-ready interiors.

The next Open Cockpit Day is scheduled for May 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the Castle Air Museum website.


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