Last Friday we drove our rental car about 45 minutes from Orange Beach, Alabama to Pensacola Florida to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The museum is located on Naval Air Station Pensacola, the home of the Blue Angels. We were sorry to miss the Homecoming Show of the Blue Angels by only a few days.
The museum includes aircraft and spacecraft from the 100+ year history of naval aviation, including fully restored examples from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Our excellent tour guide was a retired Navy fighter pilot who used a series of aircraft to explain the evolution of military air since WWI.
The main floor of the museum inlcudes a reduced-size replica of an aircraft carrier flight deck, to show how small a space pilots have to takeoff and land, sometimes at night in rough waters. Impressive!
The museum auditorium was being used for a retirement ceremony of a senior officer. Sailors, officers, friends, a color guard and a miliary band were gathering to honor his service.
We then had a trolley tour of the Flight Line, with dozens of fully restored, partially restored, and to-be-restored aircraft. Some of the planes were one-of-a-kind with intriguing battle histories.
We were inspired by this museum and its volunteer tour guides. It renewed our appreciation for the service of military aviators, including our friend Chris from Lafayette.