2014 Mini Cooper: Mini Road-Trip, Massive Wings
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 7, 2015
I had heard recently about the Castle Air Museum, in Atwater, California. It's not all that well-known, but it has an impressive collection of United States military aircraft from World War II and after. All I needed was an excuse to check it out.
Enter our 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback and my four-year-old son.
The Mini Cooper won't be in our long-term fleet much longer. It's a fun car to drive and I wanted to spend some extra time with it. Plus, my son has been interested in planes recently, so I figured I could turn it into a father-and-son road trip.
Our drive to the Castle Air Museum was almost all on the highway. Edmunds editors have taken a few long trips now in the Cooper hatchback, including drives to Bishop, California, the Coachella music festival and Vegas. My drive largely reinforced our earlier opinions. The driver seat is great for long distance driving and the suspension tuning, while not exactly comfortable, isn't overly harsh.
One aspect that stood out more this time was wind and road noise. I went on record earlier this year claiming our Mini Cooper was quiet on the highway. Well, it seemed nosier this time around, which might have had something to do with different kinds of road surfaces. Also, I was often answering my son's "Are we there yet?" questions, which could have influenced me noticing the wind and road noise more. But I wouldn't have described it as quiet on this trip.
My son was otherwise happy sitting in back, and I've come to appreciate the Mini Cooper's boxy profile. Compared to other small two-door coupes with a sloping roofline, the Cooper is easier to step in back and strap little kids into their safety or booster seats.
As for the museum itself, it was great. The collection skews heavily towards bombers, and there aren't any major WWII-era fighters (such as the P51 Mustang or P-38 Lightning). Nonetheless, there's a lot of great stuff to see. I also met one of the museum's visitors the day I went. He was an older gentleman wearing a bomber wing hat. I started asking him some questions and it turned out he used to be a B-52 mechanic during the 1960s. He had some interesting stories to tell.
Here are few photos of the museum's planes.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,245 miles