March Field Air Museum Announces February 10 “Up-Close Aircraft Day” Focus: WWII B-17 Bomber
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – March Field Air Museum is proud to announce the second installment of an interactive and new program for guests titled “Up-Close Aircraft Days.” A different aircraft will be featured each month, with the next day scheduled for Saturday, February 10, 2018. Guests will have the opportunity for a close look – sometimes climbing stairs to get a close-up view into the cargo bay or cockpit, other times even climbing aboard. The new “Up-Close Aircraft Days” are scheduled to take place on the second Saturday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., throughout the year.
During the upcoming “Up-Close Aircraft Day,” the featured aircraft will be the B-17 Flying Fortress, one of the iconic bombers of World War II. Recently restored to its shiny wartime aluminum appearance, this pioneering and beloved aircraft was designed to implement the United States Army Air Corps concept of Strategic Bombing. The undisputed centerpiece of the U.S. air campaign in Europe during WWII, this four-engine heavy bomber carried an impressive bomb load and extensive defensive armament. By May 1945, B-17s of the 8th and 15th Air Forces had delivered over 640,000 pounds of bombs onto enemy targets, while B-17 gunners shot down more enemy fighters than any other Allied aircraft of the war.
Manufactured in Long Beach, California, the museum’s B-17G was accepted into service in July 1944. Initially assigned to the 15th Air Force, it arrived in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in August. Acquired as a command transport for the Commander of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, Air Force legend General Ira Eaker, it received the name “Starduster,” a designator it kept as Gen. Eaker’s personal transport for the rest of the war. During its service, “Starduster” flew the General from Italy and North Africa to conferences and planning meetings in England, the Soviet Union and the continental United States. Serving until 1956, long after most B-17s had left the USAF inventory, the aircraft was subsequently transferred to the government of Bolivia, where it transported cargo for another 25 years.
To preview the next “Up Close Aircraft Day” happening in March, the helicopters found within the Museum’s Vietnam-era fire base exhibit will take center stage. Cargo aircraft, fighter planes and more will be highlighted as part of the program. Knowledgeable museum docents, dressed in period uniforms whenever possible, will be on hand to assist visitors, provide information and answer questions. The March Field Air Museum website will list upcoming “Up-Close Aircraft Days” and the featured aircraft each month; for more information, visit www.MarchField.org/calendar.
“This new ‘Up-Close Aircraft Days’ program allows March Field Air Museum to showcase the incredible aviation heritage of the U.S. Air Force and military, and especially Riverside’s own March Field,” said Executive Director Paul Hammond. “Today known as March Air Reserve Base, this architectural gem of a military installation in 2018 is commemorating its presence in our community for 100 years. March Field is the West Coast’s oldest continuously operated military airfield, and a birthplace of the modern Air Force that our nation relies upon today.”
Each “Up-Close Aircraft Days” opportunity will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the scheduled date (Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and is included with regular Museum admission: $10 for guests ages 12 years and older; $5 for children ages 5 to 11 years; and free for ages 4 and younger. In case of inclement weather, other aircraft may be substituted. March Field Air Museum is a top-rated TripAdvisor attraction located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. For more information about the Museum, please call 951-902-5949 or visit www.MarchField.org
About March Field’s Centennial
March Field (today’s March Air Reserve Base, located immediately adjacent to the March Field Air Museum) is the West Coast’s oldest continuously operating military airfield. Established in 1918 as the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, it began life as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Following several sleepy years in the 1920s, March Field was expanded in the 1930s as the world again prepared for war. As March Field passed the quarter-century mark, it was busily protecting West Coast skies and training U.S. Army Air Forces personnel for deployment to all Combat Theaters during WWII. Following the war—as the Cold War began—and then continuing for nearly 50 years, March Air Force Base became the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command 15th Air Force headquarters and home to a massive nuclear deterrent force.
In 1993, as March Field celebrated its 75th anniversary, it was selected for realignment and subsequently re-designated March Air Reserve Base. Today March Field is home to the Air Force Reserve Command‘s 4th Air Force Headquarters and the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, the largest air mobility wing of the 4th Air Force. In addition to multiple units of the Air Force Reserve Command, March ARB is also home to units from the U.S. Air Force, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, California Air National Guard, California Army National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. As it begins its second century as a military airfield, March Air Reserve Base is expanding to encompass new missions in service to, and in protection of, our great nation.
About March Field Air Museum
The March Field Air Museum is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to promoting an understanding of humanity’s reach for the skies and March Field’s pivotal role in the development of flight. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and rated the #1 Attraction in Riverside by TripAdvisor, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and located alongside Interstate Highway 215 at Van Buren Boulevard, just south of downtown Riverside and adjacent to March Air Reserve Base. Over 80 aircraft are on display, ranging from a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer (which launched powered flight worldwide), to the world’s fastest manned air-breathing aircraft (the SR-71 Blackbird) and a modern-day MQ-1 Predator (remotely piloted aircraft), to early examples of military aircraft, to some of America’s most iconic military planes including World War II bombers. For more information about the museum, visit www.marchfield.org or call (951) 902-5949.