Photos © Ruud Leeuw

USA Southwest 2008

Milestones of Flight museum - Lancaster-Fox Field, CA

Milestones of Flight air museum
In 1997 I had visited Lancaster-Fox Field too, but found the museum closed. This time I was more lucky and ran into Jim Vancil who is the caretaker & guide and who lives in a trailer here, with his wife Cheri, taking care of business for the past 6 years or so.

The museum is privately owned, under ownership of Frank Roberts (Chairman of the Board), Barbara Lilley (President) and Mac Mendoza (Vice President & Curator). Mac's name came up a number of times in the information Jim spilled over me, as the owner of various planes.
The large building is a former A&P hangarschool.
Here is a page of Bob Ogden's excellent guidebook on North American Air Museums and Collections listing details of the museum and the collection.

I remember seeing a photo in a 1981 copy (Vol.12) of Propliner magazine, an 1968 aerial shot, of 64 stored propliners here at Fox Field: 32 L.1049 Constellations and 22 DC-7's among them... now those were the days!
Sure glad there are people concerned with preservation of aircraft, hope you enjoy this report.

Fairchild C-119B Flying Boxcar N13745 (c/n 10304, ex/ 48-0322)

Tanker 82, C-119 N13745 - up for auction
The museum has closed and aircraft are being disposed of, e.g. this C-119 being offered through auction

My tourguide, Jim Vancil
Jim Vancil showed me around and had plenty to show and tell. There was tragedy too, this day: Jim was calling out for his cat, Tiger, but it seemed it had fallen victim to the coyotes (like 3 other cats of his).
Jim is a former P&W engineer and he is a fountain of knowledge!

Armstrong Whitworth AW660 Argosy C.1 N1430Z (c/n 6779).
The museum has installed engines now but hasn't found any props as yet.

Boeing C-97G Stratofreighter 53-0272 (c/n 17054)
A cargodoor has been swapped for equipment to remodel it into a tanker (the boom not yet installed)

Hughes' B-25 Mitchell
This B-25C Mitchell bomber (N3968C), with its executive interior, was once owned by Howard Hughes.
Jim told me an anecdote: 'when Mr Hughes took his wife for his honeymoon to New York they departed the California in this Mitchell but when the weather over the Midwest turned bad he set her down somewhere and continued by train. Month later, the airport manager phoned the Hughes company and asked when mr hughes was going to collect his plane... When the message was relayed to Howard Hughes andlearned the name of the airport, his remark was: "Oh, is that where I left it..!?!'
Jim also told me that the museum had received a request to swap this plane with some other aircraft and they were seriously considering doing it; the new owner was interested in changing it back into WW2 appearance.
As you can see by below update, that did not happen.

Update as read in Scramble magazine (nov.2015 #438):
N3968C was reg'd 19Aug2015 to San Simeon Air LLC (San Francisco,CA).
The aircraft is a very rare B-25C (41-13251), once operated by Howard Hughes; it is to be restored to the corporate transport configuration while operated by Hughes Tool Inc. in 1953.
A bit of history on this unique warbird-gone-executive-
After delivery to the military in 1942 it was sold to the Texas Railway Equipment Corp. of Houston,TX in 1946.
A year later it was registered as N75635, for one Robert harlow of Houston.
The Mitchell went abroad to operate with Fuerza Aerea Dominicana, as FAD 2502, until 1952. It then went through the ownership of two more civilian operators before landing with Hughes Tool Inc. and reg'd as N3968C in Jan.1953.
In July 1974 it ended up here in Lancaster,CA with Antelope Valley Aero Museum.
Neither this museum nor its successor, Milestones of Flight Museum, did much to restore the B-25 one way or another.
Apparently the museum was recently closed and its assets were available for disposal.
It is expected that the restoration of the B-25 will take place on a different location.

Click here to go to (slide) presentation
There is more, much more... So click on the above image to go to a presentation that will take you through the 2 buildings and inside the C-119, Stratocruiser and the Argosy. Enjoy!

Thanks to Jim Vancil for his time and all the information he poured into me!

The Road Goes On... back to US Southwest 2008

Reactions / comments welcomed.