Castle Air Museum is expecting the arrival on March 18 of its newest aircraft, a Northrop-Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
The electronic warfare jet is scheduled to be flown to the former Air Force base by a U.S. Marine Corps and Navy flight crew, said Joe Pruzzo, the chief executive officer of the museum. They are scheduled to touch down at noon that day at the airfield at 3750 W. Perimeter Ave.
The Prowler’s primary use was to disrupt enemy radar and other signals to protect allied aircraft, Pruzzo said. That makes it unique in the museum’s collection of fighter jets, bombers and other aircraft.
He said aircraft that come to the museum are typically disassembled before being brought to the airfield and put back together. So the plane is also unlike its counterparts in that it will be flown in before being retired at the museum.
“It’s that much more exciting that it’s coming out of an active Navy (and) Marine Corps fleet,” he said.
The museum’s Prowler will come from a test squadron at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Pruzzo said. The flight crew will perform some ceremonial fly-bys before landing, he said.
Pruzzo said the public can watch the fly-bys and landing if they like as long as they clear of the plane’s pathway.
Aircraft like the Prowler have been used since the Vietnam War and regularly upgraded for use in conflicts since then. The first deployment of the Prowler was May 25, 1968, according to the Navy’s website.
Pruzzo said he hopes, as he does with each new aircraft, that people will be inspired to visit or revisit the museum. “We’re one of very few museums across the nation to get one of these aircraft,” he said.
Castle Air Museum in Atwater receives no government funding, but operates using the donations of private citizens. The collection is made up of more than 60 aircraft, including a former Air Force One used by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
The museum, 5050 Santa Fe Drive, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call the museum office (209) 723-2178, or go to www.castleairmuseum.org.
Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.