Sacramento offers a wide variety of museums: from aircraft and aerospace museums to railroad, art and of course history. The number of temporary and permanent museums in the area will generally pique the interest, and one of the museums that can definitely give you a lot of insight into the rich history and culture of America is the Aerospace Museum of California, located inside McClellan AFB California. The McClellan air force base, since it was officially closed in 2001 by the Base Realignment and Closure mandate of 1995, saw portions of its area converted into a business park, and it has also proven to be a wonderful home to the Aerospace Museum of California.
The former site of the McClellan airforce base was also used as the site of McClellan Airfield, officially known as the McClellan Airport, which was used as a civil and public uncontrolled airfield that is free for general use.
The United States Air Force used the McClellan AFB as a base from the year 1935 until 2001. It is located in Sacramento, within the Northern Highlands of Sacramento County in California. Since its original inception, it was originally used by the Air Force Materiel Command (following the Air Force Logistics Command) as a primary maintenance facility for aircraft and military equipment and vehicles as well as a logistics center for said military equipment.
The United States Coast Guard also operated within the facility assigning Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento (or CGAS) as a main military aviation unit operating within the facility.
As with all other air force bases in CA, the McClellan air force base was also known to have changed its name throughout its active status. The base was originally named the Pacific Air Depot during the years 1935 up until 1937; the Sacramento Air Depot during 1937 to 1939; and finally as the McClellan Field from 1939 up to 1948. It was later to have the name McClellan air force base in the year 1948 Cold War. It was originally named after Major Hezekiah McClellan, who was a general pioneer and flight tester.
Several military commands have also seen fit to make base in the air force base which includes: the Air Force Materiel Command (from 1992 to 2001) following from Air Force Logistics Command (from 1961 to 1992) which were the last military commands to take residence in the military base. The Materiel Division of the United States Army Air Corps were the original and first tenants of the field from 1938 to 1941 followed by the Air Service Command in 1941; Army Air Forces Materiel and Services Command in1944; the Army Air Forces Technical Service Command in 1944; Air Technical Service Command from 1945 up until1946 and finally the Air Materiel Command in1946 until the AFLC and AFMC took over the base for logistics and military aircraft maintenance services.
Construction of the base, which was originally intended as a depot, started during 1935 which included several barracks, hospitals, warehouses and military administrative buildings. Shortly after that, several fighter planes in active use needed repairs, so the base was converted in order to accommodate repairs in an assembly line fashion during 1938 as the Sacramento Air Depot following several expansions to accommodate more fighter plane models on 1940. World War II saw the base as a storage center for several types of military aircrafts, particularly bomber airplanes that needed to be prepared for their deployment. The “Tokyo raid” operation aircrafts were known to have been prepped and maintained here, as well as several other fighter aircrafts and shipments bound overseas.
Before being announced officially closed due to the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) commission of 1995, the McClellan AFB functioned as the main overhaul facility serving throughout the remainder of the Cold war. It was then known as the Sacramento Air Logistics Center, which served as an installation for both military commands of the AFLC (Air Force Logistics Command) and the AFMC (Air Force Materiel Command). It has since served as maintenance aircraft depot during the majority of the 1980s for various United States Air Force aircrafts. Unfortunately, the usage of McClellan air force base as maintenance depot resulted in the contamination of the military aircraft base due to various leaks, spills and residue of chemical cleaners, fuel, lubricants and other chemical spills used in the maintenance of the various fighter aircrafts.
A privatization plan was implemented following the base’s closure due to the BRAC commission, aiming to preserve the 8,700 jobs (nearly half of the jobs went on to the government sector and private employment) present on the Air Force Base.
McClellan AFB is currently the home of the Aerospace Museum of California, formerly known as “National Museum of the United States Air Force” up until 2005 which was changed into its current name today. It was once considered as one of the most polluted military bases in the United States of America, which prompted the government to list the McClellan airforce base in the National Priorities List of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. As of the year 2005 following the date of the inception of the museum, the base is still in heavy cleanup and will continue to undergo the massive cleanup for another 10 years.
Aerospace Museum of California
The Aerospace Museum of California currently houses fully restored aircrafts (40 in total) and original artworks (60 in total) which showcases Sacramento’s history in the military and aviation industry. It also houses and highlights exhibits from the other AFB’s, including the Beale AFB and Travis AFB
During its active status, the McClellan AFB had unique areas and facilities that housed various testing areas important to the military service, which includes various radiation testing facilities, radio and transmitting areas focused on global high frequency radio signals, aircraft instrument and maintenance facilities and a hydraulic facility among others. The state of air force base lodging and housing had a respectable 200 off-base housing count as well as 13 dormitories and around 119 housing units on-site.
There were also a number of warehouses and industrial buildings (35 and 155 buildings respectively) that were present, servicing various aircraft and military services on the base.