If you are an aviation museum freak as I am, you will love the National
Museum of Naval Aviation. My first visit to the museum was probably about 10 years ago when I went on a
class field trip with my daughter, Candace. We had a great time seeing all the exhibits.
The museum was much smaller back then. I was pleasantly surprised to see the growth of
the museum since my first visit. If you plan to visit the museum, please give yourself
plenty of time to see this fantastic collection of aviation history.
The National Museum of Naval Aviation, formerly known as the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Naval Aviation Museum, is the world's largest naval aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. The Museum, established 14 December 1962, is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
The National Museum of Naval Aviation shares the excitement of Naval Aviation's rich history and has more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation with an additional 550 aircraft on display at other museums. These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum's over 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on its 37-acre grounds.
These displays include record-setting aircraft like the NC-4 flying boat, the first plane to fly across the Atlantic, as well as combat veterans, including an SBD Dauntless that flew at the Battle of Midway, two Vietnam MiG-killers, an A-7 Corsair II that logged missions over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and the last F-14 Tomcat to fly a combat mission.
In addition, the Museum displays include four former Blue Angel A-4 Skyhawks, U. S. Coast Guard helicopters, biplanes, a K-47 Airship control gondola and tail fin, an aircraft that President George H. W. Bush trained in, and the S-3 Viking used to transport President George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003.
The museum also functions in coordination with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIRSYSCOM or NAVAIR) as the Navy's program manager for nearly all other retired Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft on display aboard U.S. military installations in the United States or overseas, or in numerous other museums or public displays. These other aircraft continue to remain the property of the Department of the Navy and are typically identified at these locations as being "On Loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation."
Though the aircraft are the largest of the Museum relics, they are just one dimension of the collection. More than 4,000 uniforms, flight gear, weaponry, medals and decorations add a personal touch to the story of Naval Aviation. In addition, the Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library, which houses personal and official papers of prominent Naval Aviators, squadron records and a photograph collection numbering more 350,000 images, is a significant repository of naval history and draws researchers from around the world.
As the Museum has grown, so has its popularity. In the last decade alone, visitation has more than doubled, approaching one million in some years. The National Museum of Naval Aviation has achieved recognition as one of the world's premiere air and space museums and one of the most-visited museums in Florida. The Museum also received the prestigious American Association of Museums' accreditation in 2002. Visitors come from every state in the Union and more than 60 foreign countries. On a given day, more than 70 percent of the visitors are from outside Florida. With each addition to the Museum, there has been a commensurate increase in visitation.
TheNational Museum of Naval Aviation is part of the Navy's museum system, the largest of 12 official Navy museums located throughout the United States. Information about the Navy museum system can be found at the Naval History and Heritage Command website.
In addition to the displays, the museum operates an IMAX theatre, museum store, and cafe. The Cubi Point Cafe is itself an exhibit as it displays squadron memorabilia from the closed NAS Cubi Point Officers' Club. Also the museum is the home of the National Flight Academy, a 6-day program designed (in partnership with the Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts) to teach 7th through 12th grade students about the importance of science and math in aerospace careers. The Academy is currently planning a 245,000-square-foot expansion to the museum which would add classroom and dormitory space for the students during their stay.
Practice demonstrations by the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, may be viewed from the museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between March and November. These practices are weather permitting, and a tentative practice schedule may be viewed on the Blue Angels' website.
9am - 5pm daily
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's
National Museum of Naval Aviation
1750 Radford Blvd.
NAS Pensacola, FL 32508