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Hamilton Air Force Base Museum

Special Features Of This Neighborhood

Museum Minute – Hamilton Air Force Base – Novato, California
  • Walk Score: 43, Car-dependent. Distance to downtown Novato, 5 miles to Downtown San Rafael, 7 miles.
  • Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project is returning the former runways to their natural state as bayside wetlands. The Coastal Conservancy and the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers are sponsoring this enormous undertaking.
  • Hamilton Swimming Pool is a knoll-top, outdoor pool and facilities.
  • houses over forty working artists in three buildings plus the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, museum store, and art classrooms.
  • has a full schedule of carefully curated exhibits featuring local artists.
  • Senior Housing, at the Villas at Hamilton, was developed from Officers Quarters, provides studios and 1 and 2-bedroom apartments for residents 55-years and older.
  • Affordable Housing at the Meadow Park at Hamilton is a 200-acre parcel and master-planned community providing 708 affordable homes at Hamilton Field. The first 351 homes are under construction.

The History Of The Hamilton Field Fire Department Later Named Hamilton Air Force Base

Hamilton Army Air Field, later renamed Hamilton Air Force Base, had it’s own Fire Department until the base was decommissioned in 1976. The area is now served by the Novato Fire Protection District. Two mechanics crank the handle of a USAAF Bell P-39Q-1-BE Airacobra, at Hamilton Army Airfield, California , in July of 1943. The aircraft “Saga Boy II” belonged to Lt.Col. Edward S. Chickering, commander of the 357th Fighter Group. When the Group moved to Great Britain in November 1943, it was reequipped with the North American P-51 Mustang. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.SEE SLIDE SHOW BELOW, photos courtesy of Hamilton Field History Museum, Novato.Weebly

Hamilton Field History Museum

The Hamilton Field History Museum is located in the historic 1934 fire house of the former Hamilton Field in Novato at 555 Hanger Avenue. This museum provides a look into the history of the airfield from its opening in 1935 until its closure in 1974. The Hamilton posting was a choice posting for most of its history!

Inside and around the exterior of the Museum are hundreds of artifacts from the base’s heydey including photos, uniforms and a cockpit simulator. Museum volunteers also host an informative with regular posts of historic photos, facts, descriptions of items in their collection. If you want to visit the Museum during open hours, you should plan to visit on a Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday between noon and 4:00 pm.

The photo below shows the base on approach to the landing strip in 1970. Mount Burdell is visible in the background.

Extra Credit challenge: Although the Airforce Base is now closed, there is still one active military branch with operations at Hamilton, located in Hangars 1 and 2. Can you figure out what it is?

If you want to walk

The Hamilton Field History Museum is located across from Hangars 3 & 4 of the historic base. If you are looking for a walk, there is an entrance to the Hamilton Wetlands Trail across from hangars 5 & 7. Just look for the historic control tower.

If you want to bike

Bikes are permitted on the Hamilton Wetlands trails.

Parking considerations

Parking is free and plentiful in the parking lots by the former Air Force Hangers.


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Please Register Your Student For The Grade They Are Entering In The Fall Of 2022

**When asked for student grade level on the registration form, enter the grade they are entering in August 2022 school year. If grade is not entered correctly, we cannot guarantee there will be space to move the student later or on the first day of camp.

If you have questions or concerns, please email education@museumofaviation.org prior to completing your registration.

United States Air Force Reserve Units

Historic Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields: Hamilton Air Force Base ...

349th Military Airlift Wing

Along with its air defense mission, Hamilton AFB was Headquarters for the 349th Military Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit which was activated on May 10, 1949 and operated at Hamilton through July 25, 1969 with the exception of a brief period during 1951/52. The wing was assigned to Continental Air Command , however when activated the wing was allocated to Military Air Transport Service/Military Airlift Command.

The 349th was bestowed the history and lineage of the World War II349th Troop Carrier Group, which had been part of the Ninth Air ForceIX Troop Carrier Command in Europe. Units attached to the 349th MAW were the 349th Troop Carrier Group, Medium and 310th, 311th, 312th and 313th Troop Carrier Squadrons. It was known as the “Golden Gate Wing” and flew the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando. During the Korean War, the reserve personnel of the 349th were called to active duty and used as fillers in other wings that were not up to combat strength. Consequently, the 349th TCW was inactivated on April 2, 1951.

349th Fighter-Bomber Wing

349th Troop Carrier/Military Airlift Wing

In September 1957, the unit was redesignated as the 349th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, with the following squadrons: and assigned to Tactical Air Command.

The 349th was redesignated the 349th Military Airlift Wing on June 1, 1966 when the unit was reallocated to Military Airlift Command. The Wing controlled four airlift groups.

452d Military/Tactical Airlift Wing

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Prominent Visitors To Hamilton

During Hamiltons 40 year existence, first as an Army Air Field in 1935 and then as an Air Force Base in 1947, a number of civilian dignitaries and notables visited the base. Naturally, there were also a number of well-known military personnel that passed through Hamiltons famous gate. Following is a partial listing.

For additional information on some of the people mentioned above, click on links below.

General Harley Arnold

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Hamilton Field: Old Air Base In Novato Presents Rich Military Past Promise Of Environmental Revival

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A former Air Force base, Hamilton Field in Novato is today a mixed-use community with hangars converted into office space for businesses including Birkenstock and Imagemovers Digital. There is a library, a community center, a museum, hiking trails and residential homes. Most exciting of all, Hamilton Field is part of a huge tidal wetland restoration effort. Almost 1,000 acres of airfield will become seasonal wetlands, alive with fish and shorebirds.

Built during the Great Depression and named for World War I pilot and hero Lloyd Hamilton, the Air Force base was originally marshland and was sold to the U.S. government for $1. Hamilton Field was designed by Capt. Howard B. Nurse, who created an environment that blended in with the natural landscape, combining elements of Renaissance, Mission, Spanish Churrigueresque and Art Modern.

In 1976, the airfield was closed and the area used as an introduction center for refugees from Southeast Asia. Cambodians, Vietnamese and Laotians poured into the base on their way to establishing homes throughout the United States.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Hamilton Airfield Museum

For over 35 years, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum has interpreted Canada’s proud aviation history through the restoration and preservation of its outstanding collection of military aircraft and other artifacts, and gained international acclaim for its vintage aircraft flying program.”

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is located at the Hamilton International Airport in Mount Hope, Ontario, where it is housed in a large delta-wing shaped building.

In 1970 pilots Dennis Bradley and Alan Ness were discussing their love of aviation and their desire to maintain and preserve Canada’s aviation history. They formulated a plan to preserve, in flying condition, some of the training and combat aircraft flown by RCAF pilots during World War II. They invited two friends, Peter Matthews and John Weir, to become partners with them in this new adventure.

They acquired their first aircraft, a Fairey Firefly, in October, 1971. After major restoration work and hours of volunteer labour, it was test flown the following year. This aircraft forms the central figure on the museum’s advertising, and is incorporated into its crests and logo.

In 1972 the group moved into part of Hangar #4 at Hamilton Airport and started to seek out other restoration projects. A Harvard Mark IV was their second acquisition, followed shortly after by a Supermarine Seafire, a Corsair, a de Havilland Chipmunk and a Tiger Moth.

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Hamilton Civic Museums Update

  • Dundurn National Historic Site, The Hamilton Military Museum, Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology, Whitehern Historic House, and Fieldcote Museum are open to the public.
  • Battlefield House, Hamilton Children’s Museum, and Griffin House are closed to the public to accommodate ongoing construction projects.
  • Rental venues are available at all sites. Capacities in keeping with COVID guidelines will be conveyed at time of inquiry.

Burlington Heights, where Dundurn Castle and The Hamilton Military Museum now stand, was occupied by the British military from 1813 -1815. Built as a gate house by Sir Allan MacNab in the late 1830s atop a battery from the War of 1812, this building known as Battery Lodge, now houses The Hamilton Military Museum.

Attack On Pearl Harbor

In response to the growing crisis in the Pacific, on December 6, 1941, the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron with four B-17Cs and two new B-17Es left Hamilton Field bound for Hickam Field, Hawaii on their way to Clark Field in the Philippines to reinforce the American Far East Air Force there. None were armed. After leaving Hamilton, and flying all through the night, the bombers arrived over Oahu on the morning of December 7, 1941, and faced an unusual welcome. The B-17s had arrived over Oahu during the Japanese air attack on Hawaii which triggered American entry into World War II. They arrived at Pearl Harbor at the height of the attack . Two of the planes managed to land at a short fighter strip at Haliewa, one made a belly-landing at Bellows, one set down on the Kahuku Golf Course, and the remainder landed at Hickam under the strafing of Japanese planes.

The B-17Es of the 7th Bombardment Group were moved back to Hamilton from Utah for deployment to the Far East. Six of them arrived in Hawaii just after the Pearl Harbor attack, but the rest of them were ordered to remain in California and were sent south to Muroc AAF near Rosamond.

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Do You Want To Live At Hamilton Field In Novato

I would love to introduce you to Hamilton Field! If you are interested in living in Hamilton Field, you can start by searching for properties, when you are ready to learn first-hand about Hamilton Field homes, contact us. We are happy to help and share our local knowledge of all that Novato has to offer.

Site Of Former Hamilton Air Force Base Housing

Historic Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields: Hamilton Air Force Base ...

Hamilton is comprised of nine neighborhoods, each a distinct planned housing development: Bayside, Hamilton Meadows, Hamilton Park, Southgate, Traditions, Inspirations, Sunny Cove, Newport, and The Landing. The first homes were available in 1999, and the latest neighborhood, The Landing, was constructed in 2012. Most of the properties are single-family homes, with a few town homes in the Traditions neighborhood. Much of the appeal of the Hamilton Field Novato community comes from the renovated Spanish-style buildings built in the early 1930s. These serve as a community center, art center and gallery, Unity Church, Hamilton Field Museum, and much more. The proximity to the Bay provides temperate weather and wonderful light.

In addition to the homes and office buildings at Hamilton, there are 70 acres of parks and 50 acres for community facilities, including a library, gymnasium, recently renovated outdoor swimming pool, self-storage, baseball and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts, open playing fields, a 15,000 sq. ft. skate park, and an outdoor amphitheater.

The former aircraft hangers bordering San Francisco Bay have been transformed into commercial spaces accommodating offices, high tech industries, a YMCA, and useful services, such as a dry cleaner. At the North West corner of Hamilton Field, the new Hamilton Marketplace provides a supermarket, restaurants, a bank, and more.

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Discover Canadas Air Force Story

The National Air Force Museum of Canada is a must-see attraction while in the Quinte area. With over 75,000 square feet of display space attached to a sprawling, 16-acre air park, plan to set aside a few hours to truly enjoy this aviation gem.

Established in 1984, the NAFMC is dedicated to preserving and telling the history of Canadian military aviation. From its first flight on a frozen lake in Nova Scotia, through to todays humanitarian relief missions, the Museum captures the spirit, the daring and the courage of the men and women of the RCAF. Featured exhibits and static aircraft displays await visitors in an informal and family-friendly atmosphere.

However, its the stories of Canadian air force personnel that are the real treasures of the Museum. Meet the ingenious POW aircrews who plotted the Great Escape the gold medal winning, underdogs of the RCAF Flyers hockey team or the men and women, both civilian and military, that combined to create the massive, hugely successful British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Located on the north side of 8 Wing Trenton, the NAFMC is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm from May 1 to September 30 and on Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm from October 1 to April 30.

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