ATWATER — Castle Airport's runway hosted a commercial 747 airplane Monday -- the largest aircraft it's seen since the airport shut down as a military base.
The plane flew from Tuscon, Ariz., and stayed at Castle for about an hour while crews ran tests on a new engine installed in the aircraft.
Jim Price, vice president of operations at Gemini Flight Support, said other companies have flown aircraft to Castle for testing and evaluation.
"Flight testing and evaluation is a big part of what Castle is equipped to do," he said. "We're not congested, and the ease of operation here is unlike any other airport around."
Price said Castle is selected for testing new equipment because of its large, extended runway and open ramp space.
After completing testing of the newly installed Rolls-Royce engine, the plane took off, returning to Arizona, Price said. If the new engine passes evaluations, it will be used in Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Price hopes Castle Airport continues to be used for new equipment testing in the future.
"This is what the reuse of former Air Force bases is for," he said. "We're hoping it's an ongoing thing. As we like to say, once you've experienced Castle, you'll want to come back."