El Paso pilot bids farewell to NASA aircraft headed to San Diego museum

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El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — The San Diego Air & Space Museum is expecting the S-3B Viking aircraft at its Gillespie Field Annex on Tuesday afternoon, but first, the aircraft made a stop in the Borderland.

According to Naval Technology, the S-3A Viking, designed for anti-submarine warfare, entered service in 1975. Between 1987 and 1994, all U.S. Navy S-3A aircraft were converted to S-3B with a new mission and weapon systems for anti-surface warfare and other roles.

The S-3B has combat-proven precision targeting and over-the-horizon precision targeting capability.

From 1982 to 1997, an El Paso native and Austin High School graduate was the pilot for the aircraft.

“I have 3,000 flight hours in it and 309 arrested landings,” said Ret. Raul Castaneda. “This aircraft is multi-functional. It was first built and designed to hunt and destroy submarines.”

The aircraft took off from Cleveland at 7 a.m. on Monday and made a one-hour stop in El Paso before heading out to San Diego.

“I say farewell to the S-3, headed to San Diego,” Casteneda said. “It was very nice of them to stop by and let me see it one last time, get in the cockpit, and reminiscent my days.”

The progress of NASA flight 601 can be tracked in real-time on FlightAware.

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