The Aerospace Museum of California, originally known as the McClellan Aviation Museum, was founded in 1982 as a part of the US Air Force museum system. After McClellan Air Force Base, located just north of Sacramento, was closed in 2001, local communities rallied to keep the museum alive and formed a non-profit organization that runs it today. In 2007, all of the exhibits and aircraft have been relocated to a brand-new facility that also includes a 4-acre air park.
Aerospace Museum of California
|3200 Freedom Park Dr, McClellan Park, CA 95652, USA
The museum’s indoor exhibits are housed in the 37,500 square-foot Hardie Setzer Aerospace Pavilion and include among other aircraft a Dassault HU-25B Guardian in US Coast Guard livery, a Gyrodyne QH-50D DASH anti-submarine drone helicopter, North American F-86F Sabre, Fairchild PT-19B Cornell, Stearman PT-13D Kaydet and Rutan Model 54 Quickie. One of the most interesting indoor exhibits is also a large collection of aircraft engines showing the technological evolution from the earliest piston engines to sophisticated jet engines.
Most of the museum’s 40+ collection of aircraft is displayed outdoors in a large air park and is dominated by fighter jets, most likely as the former McClellan AFB used to be a fighter modification and repair facility. The oldest jets and jet trainers include a Lockheed F-80B Shooting Star, North American F-86L Dog Sabre, Republic F-84F Thunderstreak and Vought A-7D Corsair II. The museum also showcases all of the Century Series jets including a North American F-100D Super Sabre, McDonnell F-101B Voodoo, Convair F-102A Delta Dagger, Lockheed F-104B Starfighter, Republic F-105D Thunderchief, Convair F-106A Delta Dart.
And more jets
Other jets in the collection include a Douglas A-4C Skyhawk sporting Blue Angel colors, a Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II, which was a veteran of the first Gulf War, a North American T-39A Sabreliner, McDonnell F-4C Phantom II, Grumman F-14D Tomcat and General Dynamics F-111A Aardvark. There are also two Russian MiGs: a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17PF and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F. The largest aircraft in the air park is a former FedEx Boeing 727-225 transport plane.
Propeller aircraft collection
There are also a lot of interesting aircraft for propeller aficionados including the North American T-28B Trojan and T-6G Texan trainers, together with a Douglas A1-E Skyraider and followed by transport aircraft such as a Beech UC-45J Expeditor, Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar, Grumman TS-2A Tracker, Convair VC-131D Samaritan, Douglas C-54Q Skymaster and a Coast Guard Grumman HU-16E Albatross seaplane. There are also two helicopters: a Piasecki CH-21C Workhorse and Sikorsky CH-53E Jolly Green Giant.
The Aerospace Museum of California also displays an actual WWII veteran: a Douglas C-53D Skytrooper (s/n 42-68835) which is opened for tours. The plane was built by Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica as one of the 150 C-53D models. It was delivered to the USAAF on July 12, 1943 and deployed to England as part of the 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th Troop Carrier Group which participated in glider missions supporting the D-Day invasion. The plane was also used for dropping supplies to the besieged 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne and later in the Operation Market Garden in Holland.
Lockheed EC-121K Warning Star
The other aircraft open for tours is a Lockheed EC-121K Warning Star, a military version of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. This large airborne early warning and control radar surveillance aircraft is currently painted in Air Force livery but in the past was used primarily by the US Navy. When visiting the aircraft, talk to a docent to learn more about the characteristic radomes, specialized communication equipment and a unique role that this aircraft played during the Cold War.