National Naval Aviation Museum
The National Museum of Naval Aviation hosts nearly a million visitors annually and is the second largest aviation museum in the United States. Within the museum are more than 140 aircraft, archival materials, aviation exhibits, and even a life-sized replica of part of the USS Cabot light carrier from World War II. Walk beside several aircraft preparing for takeoff from the flight deck. Suspended in the museum are several more planes, like the Wildcat and Kingfisher.
In the Hangar Bay, imagine being part of the crew when a boatswain’s pipe announces mail call. Visit the sick bay, ship’s store, living areas, or the ready room. Then, protect the ship by manning the anti-aircraft gun battery.
The Blue Angels are honored with a seven-story glass and steel atrium that’s now home to four of the aerobatic team’s retired A-4 Skyhawks. See the Blue Angels in their trademark diamond four formation as they appear to dive toward the deck. The National Museum of Naval Aviation has its own IMAX film screen and watching the program The Magic of Flight will have you believe you’re riding in the cockpit with one of the Blue Angels.
Contained within the Museum are aircraft and aviation memorabilia from the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and the Navy. Aircraft are on display throughout the Museum’s massive building and on the surrounding 37-acres of land. A free bus tour will take you on a 20-minute ride to see nearly 40 more aircraft displayed behind the Restoration hangar. Interior exhibits include personal items such as aviator flight logs, clothing, equipment, and photographs of individual pilots.
Exciting for all ages is the cockpit trainers in which visitors can sit and experience the thrill of being at the controls of a Corsair, Harrier jet, F-8 Crusader, F11F Tiger, or even an AH-1 Sea Cobra helicopter.
Museum hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is currently free. The National Museum of Naval Aviation is located at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. For detailed directions, visit their Web site at http://naval.aviation.museum/home.html, and let them know you heard about the museum from airplanes.com.