The Moffett Field Historical Society and Museum is truly an under-appreciated gem of the Mountain View area. It's fair to say that it lacks the polish and budget of larger museums, but the museum and its circle of veteran-volunteers make up for that with their dedication and heart.
Last week, the museum reopened after being closed for most of 2017 for building improvements. A sorely needed heating and air-conditioning system was installed in the museum, housed in a NASA-owned building. Those improvements are a welcome relief, said Tom Spink, the museum's public relations director. During hot summer days, it would often feel like it was cooking inside under the building's tin roof, he said.
Like many volunteers, Spink can't help but regale visitors with stories as he leads them around the exhibits. More than anything else, Spink said, the museum seeks to tell the human stories behind Moffett Field's former days as a military base.
He eagerly goes into detail on the inner-workings of a World War II flight simulator or how tiny Sparrowhawk biplanes could fly off and reattach to a giant dirigible like the U.S.S. Macon, which was housed in Hangar One. Over the years, the Moffett museum has accumulated dozens of old aircraft and probably enough old military gear to outfit a battalion. In fact, the museum is now facing the problem of having too much stuff, making it nearly impossible to rotate the exhibits.
"We're bulging at the seams," Spink said. "As more and more veterans pass away, we get boxes and boxes of stuff donated to us."
The museum's docents, who clearly all love aviation, have accrued dozens of historic aircraft for display, such a U2 spy plane, an F/A-18 Hornet jet and a P-3 surveillance plane.
The Moffett Field Historical Society and Museum is right in front of the iconic Hangar One. Visitors are advised to enter the Ellis Street gate since Moffett Field's main entrance is currently closed through July. Visitors will need to bring a driver's license to show to the entrance guards.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children. More information is online at moffettfieldmuseum.org.