Merced County Times Newspaper
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Air Museum plans ‘Korks and Kegs’ and Open Cockpit Day

A Lockheed F-117 Stealth Nighthawk is expected to arrive at the Castle Air Museum this winter.
A Lockheed F-117 Stealth Nighthawk is expected to arrive at the Castle Air Museum this winter.

Castle Air Museum in Atwater, which houses a world-renowned collection of 74 military aircraft on its grounds, will hold two fun outdoor events you won’t want to miss within the next 30 days, so mark them on your calendar!  They are Korks and Kegs, a beer and wine-tasting event on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fall Open Cockpit Day on Saturday, Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Joe Pruzzo, the museum’s CEO, told the Times, “On Saturday, Sept. 18, Castle Air Museum will host Korks and Kegs, a wine and craft beer event, on the museum grounds. Only those 21 years and older can attend.

“It’s a joint venture with the Castle Atwater Kiwanis and the museum.  It benefits both.  They contact the wineries and breweries, and we promote it and also reach out to some wineries and breweries.

“I believe combined, there are approximately six or seven wineries and six or seven micro-breweries that will be there for tasting.  Certainly, it’s a taste of what the Valley has to offer in terms of fine wines and great craft beer.

“I believe the Modesto/Stockton area down to Fresno will be represented.  Blaker Brewing will be there, along with Tioga Sequoia from Fresno and Tactical Ops from Clovis.  Delicato Winery from the Stockton area is donating wine, and I believe The Vista will be in attendance, and numerous others.

“There will be food trucks there.

“We will have music provided at a reduced cost by a DJ from Fresno, who is a museum Board member and has been doing it for a long time.

“We’ve done this event with Castle Atwater Kiwanis about four times, but due to the pandemic the last year we did it was 2019.

“We brainstormed a catchy name, Korks and Kegs, and we’ve gone with that.

“We want to thank Sun Belt Rentals which will provide four light carts for us, which have a generator and light up the grounds and the parking lot.

“The Sign Guys donated a beautiful banner that is hanging on the fence.

“Brent Jerner at APG Solar donated funds to sponsor the event.”

Tickets can be purchased for $35 for general admission, and VIP tickets may be purchased for $45, which includes a tour of Air Force One.

For further information, those interested can call Don at 209-723-2178, ext. 305 or go online to and click on Events.


Fall Open Cockpit Day

Fall Open Cockpit is going to be held Saturday, October 2, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Pruzzo told the Times, “We have moved it from the traditional Labor Day event because typically, it’s so hot then.  The heat is hard on the volunteers, and halfway through the day, attendance begins to drop because of the heat.  We’re hopeful it will be cooler and that way we will have an even flow of traffic throughout the day.

“We will have helicopter rides.

“Included in the admission cost will be a shuttle bus to Castle Airport to see the Hidden Collection of fabric-covered airplanes, drones, aircraft engines, and other artifacts, and there will be docents there to explain them.

“We will have law enforcement displays on the grounds.

“We will have food and beverage vendors, and people selling shaved ice which is always refreshing.”

For more information, those interested can call or go online to the website, click on Visit, and the Open Cockpit Day breakdown of admission prices will be displayed.


What’s new at the air museum?

There are 74 military aircraft at Castle Air Museum, but a couple of them are in restoration.

Several more are coming in the near future, and the museum is eagerly anticipating a Lockheed F-117 Stealth Nighthawk which will be arriving in December or January from Nevada.

These planes were used in Desert Storm, and they were in operation for about six years before their existence was revealed.

Pruzzo exclaimed, “We are the only museum between the Southern California area and the Pacific Northwest to be receiving one!”


The Castle Air Museum is located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater.

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