China Lake Museum Flies Into New Off-Base Location


The Grumman F-11 Super Tiger is on display in front of the new location for the China Lake Museum. The museum opened its new location in March 2018. PHOTO BY JESSICA WESTON/REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

By Jack Barnwell
Reprinted by permission of The Daily Independent

In front of a small group of veterans and supporters May 24, 2018, Anthony Damiano raised the American flag for the first time at the new site of the China Lake Museum. The Museum opened a new location off base at 130 E. Las Flores Ave., meaning visitors no longer need to pass a background screening to go onto base property to visit.

At 8 a.m. on the dot, Damiano lifted the flag, timed in conjunction with the raising done in front of the Administration Building aboard Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Following the ceremony, the flag was lowered to half mast in solemn respect for those affected by the May 18 Santa Fe High School shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that claimed 10 lives.

“This is a momentous occasion. This has been 15 years in the planning,” Damiano said, referring to the museum’s new location on East Las Flores Avenue.

Damiano noted the flag raising signifies one in a series of events the China Lake Museum has undergone.

The museum opened the doors to its new site in March, a year-and-a-half after the China Lake Museum Foundation broke ground. Days prior to the museum opening, the iconic Grumman F-11 Super Tiger fighter jet was towed in and installed in front of the museum.

Damiano noted more aircraft and displays will be brought in as time and resources allow.

While the new site contains only a fraction of the displays housed by the old location aboard China Lake, it still holds a wealth of history about the installation and the Navy’s mission.



A group of visitors look over an exhibit at the new location of the China Lake Museum. PHOTO BY JESSICA WESTON/REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF THE DAILY INDEPENDENT


According to China Lake Museum Foundation officer Alice Campbell, conceptual art for Phase II was recently unveiled. The second phase includes a building designed to look like a hangar.

Campbell said the foundation is still researching the costs and stages of construction for the second phase, but once complete, could host the majority of displays still located at its old site aboard China Lake.

Funding for Phase I came from years of donations and fundraisers, and a $250,000 grant secured written by now-CLMF President Laura Hickle from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Museum Grant Program.