Saturday, April 2, 2016

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 270: Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola

National Naval Aviation Museum.
For years, I’ve had all sorts of people tell me that I need to go check out the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. I’ve lived a relatively short distance from this museum pretty much all of my life, but for whatever reason, I’d never taken the time to go there. For that reason, several years ago, I placed a trip to this museum on my “bucket list.”

The National Naval Aviation Museum was established in 1962 and is located at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. According to its Web site, the “museum is devoted to the history of naval aviation, including that of the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard. Its mission is ‘to select, collect, preserve and display’ appropriate memorabilia representative of the development, growth and historic heritage of United States Naval Aviation.’”

My son and I loaded up early on Wednesday morning and drove down to the Naval Air Station to check out the museum. To say that I was impressed was be the understatement of the year. In fact, I’ve been to many museums over the years, and this one may be the best I’ve ever been through. It’s pretty awesome.

The most prominent feature of this museum is all the aircraft on display. Parked on the main floor of the museum and suspended from the ceiling, you’ll find a wide variety of historic aircraft, ranging all the way from the early days of aviation up to modern times, including space capsules. You’ll also find numerous cockpit displays that children can climb into, and some of them are even big enough for adults to get into as well. One was even big enough for my son and I to both climb into.

Displays also include old military ground vehicles, mounted guns from old battleships (that you can also climb up on), numerous scale models of aircraft carriers, giant propellers from old ships and dozens of pieces of military artwork and sculpture. You can also walk through one whole section made up to resemble the inner workers of a naval ship, giving you an idea of what daily life is like aboard for servicemen and women. The museum also includes a library, a restaurant and a sizable gift shop.

One cool thing about our trip on Wednesday had to do with something we didn’t know about to begin with. The famous Blue Angles flight demonstration squad was scheduled to hold a practice and hundreds of people had turned out to watch what amounted to a free air show. We caught some of the act as well and even saw some of the pilots signing autographs at the museum after the show.

If you’ve never been to the National Naval Aviation Museum, I highly recommend that you check it out first chance you get. I’ve been to tons of museums over the years, and this one is arguably the best that I’ve ever been to. It has something for everyone, whether you like airplanes or not.

In the end, how many of you have been to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola? What did you think about it? What other museums would you recommend visiting? Let us know in the comments section below.

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