National Museum of Naval Aviation

This past week I had the opportunity to make a business trip to Pensacola, Florida. Because of the timing of the trip, I arrived around 10 AM for a 1:30 PM meeting, I was able to squeeze in an hour at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. This museum is located aboard the Naval Air Station Pensacola, and is my favorite museum that has airplanes in it.
Of course the focus of this museum is on Naval Aviation, so you won’t see any civil airplanes like at the Smithsonian, but you will see civilian airplanes that has military uses. One of the first examples that comes to mind is the Ford Tri-Motor. At the museum you will see a Tri-Motor that was configured as a transport plane. The great thing about it is you can walk right under the wings (remember to duck) and touch the flight surfaces. Walk over to the door and put your head in and get are real up close look at what the cabin looked like. That is one of the great things about this museum, the aircraft are crowded in on the display floor, but you are walking around them, not looking at them from a distance. On an earlier trip Lady CurbCrusher was surprised to find that while the wings of some of the WWII aircraft are metal, the actual control surfaces (elevator, ailerons) are fabric, and she discovered this by running her hand over the trailing edge of the wing.
There are a number of cool aircraft in this place. There is the NC-4, one of the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic. The thing is huge, and build out of wood and fabric. It’s wingspan is said to be longer than the Wright Brothers first flight. There is a Dauntless dive bomber that is traceable to being on the ground in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, and then fighting at the Battle of Midway. An atrium has a flight of four Blue Angel F4’s in formation hanging from the ceiling.
A whole day could be spent here, but I only got to squeeze in an hour walking around the main floor. There is an IMAX movie theater, and the Cubi-Bay snack bar which is supposed to be an exact replica of the Cubi-Bay officers club, right down to the squadron plaques on the walls. I would argue that the museum alone is enough of a reason to visit Pensacola.

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