The Commemorative Air Force SoCal Wing has begun the initial phase for expansion of its historic WWII Aviation Museum, hangars and buildings complex at Camarillo Airport.“We have run out of museum display space, artifacts storage, maintenance/restoration hangars and office space,” said Steve Barber, former Wing Leader, current Executive Officer, and long time member of the non-profit CAFSoCal organization.
The current complex of two existing hangars and adjoining museum was built fourteen years ago. “We want to attract people from around the world by making our facility a crown jewel of aviation history for Ventura County. Young and adult visitors will learn about some of the people behind the aircraft, the aviation pioneers who built industries started in Southern California,” Barber said. In addition, visitors will see and touch some of the original aircraft on display in a new state-of-the art museum building.
“The recent generous $1 million lead donation from Si and Betty Robin, legendary aircraft antenna and sensors manufacturer and philanthropists in Southern California, is enabling us to go forward in the initial phase along with a $375,000 matching grant from CAF Headquarters in Texas,“ Barber said. Mr. Robin is also a pilot and aircraft enthusiast.
The CAF Wing is looking at various options on the land use. A new large multi-story museum complex is planned that could include a theater, gift shop, restaurant, catering and entertainment spaces. Initial plans also call for adding more maintenance hangars on the property’s west side. On the east side a display hangar with flying and static display aircraft will be located along with the museum. Final cost of the expansion project could be $10 million and a fund raising effort is underway.
The Wing has leased the old Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Training Center building, adjacent to the current property. All the stored museum artifacts over the years have been moved into that building, along with some of the Wing offices. There will be new exhibits to display.
The current museum won’t be impacted by the expansion project and will remain open during the transition. Visitors still can see the current displays and get up close to the historic aircraft and even “book a ride” on one of the restored flying WWII fighter or trainer aircraft.
The Aircraft Museum, located at 455 Aviation Drive at Camarillo Airport, is open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 4pm. It is closed regularly on Mondays. The Museum phone number is 805-482-0064.
Architectural Rendering of proposed New Museum
Most of the historic fighter and trainer aircraft are also on static display. Visitors can see them, touch the planes, watch maintenance and restoration being performed on others, and talk to the mechanics working on them.
The CAFSoCal Wing will continue to fly and offer rides on several of its restored historical aircraft. The wing will also continue to perform throughout the Western United States at various air shows and public events. Steve Barber also suggested a great gift is to take time out and see the museum with your family both now and after the expansion project is completed.
For further information contact: Pat Brown, Wing PIO (805- 479-2221) or Michael Greywitt, Wing PIO.