ATWATER — The Castle Air Museum has received a new addition to its growing collection.
On Thursday, a convoy of four trucks carried a T-37 from the Aircraft Maintenance And Regeneration Center in Tucson, Ariz., said Tony Rocha, curator for the museum.
The T-37 was the primary jet trainer for U.S. Air Force pilots from the 1950s until 2006, when they were discontinued, Rocha said. When operational, the plane has the ability to fly as fast as 425 miles per hour, he said.
The museum acquired the economical twin-engine T-37 from the U.S. National Air Force Museum, he said, which is the legal guardian of the plane.
"They can pull an aircraft at any time," he said. "But it's ours for the long term; we are not concerned about it."
The plane is missing its wings and tale, but most of the rest of the aircraft is intact.
Volunteers at the museum will work on its restoration, Rocha said. For some planes, the restoration process takes several years.
"Sometimes it's a matter of finding parts," he said.
But the T-37 is pretty much complete, Rocha said.
"We just need to put it back together," he said.
Rocha said he and the volunteers hope to have the plane on display at the museum by fall of next year.
Every time a new plane comes into the museum, it helps get more people interested in volunteering, Rocha said. After a plane from the U.S. Navy came in, a few Navy veterans began to volunteer to get the restoration done. Rocha said sometimes it's people who worked on the planes or even flew them. They perform restoration work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
There are about 150 volunteers in total at the museum, he said.
When the museum opened in 1981, it had only eight planes. Today, it has about 55, Rocha said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.