Veteran volunteers working to revive history at Castle Air Museum

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) -- A group of volunteer veterans are spending their spare time refurbishing military aircraft at Castle Air Museum, and they're hoping the next generation will someday do the same.

"Our task is to preserve history, so we want to preserve it correctly," said Jeff Heyer, restoration manager at Castle Air Museum. The military veteran (who was stationed at Castle Air Force Base in 1977) leads the effort at the museum, which is responsible for restoring many of the aircraft on display.

The group is comprised of over 30 volunteers and is currently taking on 25 restoration projects, including one to fix up a NASA plane they believe was flown by Neil Armstrong. On average, the restorations take about 10,000 hours to complete, and it's all completely volunteer.

"If you don't have a love affair for what you do, you shouldn't even do it," said Dave Batdorff, a military veteran and current volunteer.

The group is also working with a group of more than 30 UC Merced students, hoping to pass the love for the craft along to the next generation.

"They all like to joke around, we all like to have fun around here," said Alesandra Enriquez, who worked as a student intern last year before returning as a volunteer to help the next group in 2019. "I'm more than willing to help them with that, because here in the hangar you learn a lot of stuff."

The group says you don't have to be a veteran or a student to help. They can always use assistance with the physical portion of the restoration, or for research on the planes themselves to ensure historical accuracy. For more on volunteer opportunities, click here.
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