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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Aerospace Museum 'Feels the Need for Speed'

Aug 25, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Ruth N. Morse

Skylar Webster sports a green flight suit and stands beside a Desert Storm plane. Photo by Ruth N. Morse

Aerospace Museum 'Feels the Need for Speed' [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento-area Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan celebrated its first evening Open Cockpit event on Saturday, August 20, 2022. Since it has a “Top Gun” F-14 Tomcat and the movie “Top Gun: Maverick” is out this summer, the museum staff decided to open fourteen of their plane cockpits for viewing on Saturday afternoon.

Traditionally, the Aerospace Museum sponsors Open Cockpits twice a year during the day—once on May 4th for “May the Fourth be with you” and once on Veterans Day on November 11th. These events, which have proven to be popular with attendances up to one thousand, have now been reformatted into Top Gun Open Cockpit.

The event was an enjoyable date for visiting with volunteers, staff and the public about their experiences with the Museum. Karen Jones, Advancement Director at Aerospace Museum of California, oversees its fundraising and pointed out that the Covid experience in the last couple of years was beneficial for the faciliy. They profited in many ways, reinvented the experience and kept staff busy refurbishing their exhibits, when they could not be open to the public. A new café was opened during this time and a new exhibit built around the Makani, a large energy kite named after the Hawaiian word for wind they received from the manufacturer in 2020.

Aerospace Museum’s four-acre property has a unique combination of volunteers and paid staff, which are necessary since the operation does not receive government funding. There are over three hundred volunteers who range in age from students doing community service to retirees with aviation experience.

In addition to those with a love of aviation and serving our country in the military, others manned the Aerospace facility actively promoting the educational emphasis in STEM. These staff and volunteers reach out to the next generation to encourage them to pursue careers and interests in the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Another event at the museum promoting STEM includes summer camp, a weeklong day event with as many as one hundred children at a time and a total of nine different camps.

Senior volunteer Bob Hiltachk logged more than five hundred hours of volunteer work. He enjoyed showing off the newly refurbished Blue Angel to Tim and Logan Jacobsen visiting from Rancho Cordova. The Blue Angel was recently returned to the museum after four years at the nearby Coast Guard for refurbishment. It looked great indoors with its new blue paint job.

The museum features a gift shop which allows the of purchase items such as the museum mascot, Amelia Bearhart. The bear is often hidden in the museum and becomes part of a scavenger hunt. Amelia Bearhart’s Storytime and Crafts will be held from 10 am to 2 pm in the Museum, Saturday, August 27th. They also had Top Gun items for sale in the shop, and an interesting book about a local triple ace named Colonel Bud Anderson, a centenarian who lives in Auburn and is involved in the museum.

As Karen pointed out, the museum is thriving despite Covid closures over the last couple of years. It appeals to diverse groups of people who enjoy coming together to learn about planes and flying, engineering and history. The Museum even qualifies to be a Smithsonian Institution partner, something only two local museums are qualified for.

Museum normal operating hours are Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors, youth, teachers and veterans. An upcoming event is a storytime on Saturday, August 27, 2022.

For more information visit or 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan, CA 95652 or call 916-643-3192.

The Museum is forward-looking by encouraging the next generations to participate in aviation history and technology. You can attend and come away with new knowledge after this enjoyable “infotainment” experience!

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