Castle International Airport (MER) is operated by the Merced County Department of Commerce, Aviation, and Economic Development. The Airport is located just outside the city limits of Atwater, CA and is the nearest airport to Yosemite National Park.

Formerly Castle Air Force Base, the airfield is named in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle. General Castle posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while leading more than 2,000 heavy bombers in a WWII strike against German airfields on December, 24 1944.

At the end of the Cold War, Castle Air Force Base was selected for closure under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 during Round II Base Closure Commission deliberations (BRAC 91). The base was officially closed in 1995 and named Castle Airport Aviation and Development Center. In early 2007, Castle Airport’s control tower was reopened to handle increased traffic. Castle Air Museum was opened in 1981 at Castle AFB and currently displays 50 restored World War II, Korean War, and Cold War era aircraft.

Castle Airport records over 220,000 aircraft operations per year, averaging over 575 per day. Over 99% of the airport’s traffic is general aviation, and about 1% is military. The Airport is easily accessible to the surrounding communities and is strategically positioned for commercial service. Castle Airport officials are committed to pursuing and providing commercial air service to the citizens and visitors of Merced County, the surrounding region and Yosemite National Park.

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Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle

Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle
Assistant Commander, 4th Bomber Wing,
U.S. Army Air Corps