Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pensacola National Naval Museum - Free!

(due to very flaky internet, blog posts will be sporadic for February)

The weather finally warms up into the 60s - so, of course, rain rolls in. That's OK, though! Freddy & Debbie invite us to tag along with them the National Naval Museum in Pensacola. Freddy was in the Navy for 21 years and was a plane mechanic, so he is also an awesome tour guide. 

Know before you go: The museum is free, but is on a naval base. Museum visitors must have a valid photo ID and can only enter through one gate. We recommend checking the museum's website for any last minute rule changes for entering the base. Also? Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk. This place is huge!

Tours: If you want to take the guided tour, the tours start at 9:30am, 11am, 1pm, 2:30pm, and can take a couple of hours. (We understand the best day to take the tour is Friday at 11am, but its best to come fed and well-rested. Friday's tour guide is well-known for his three hour tour!) There's also a 20 minute Fight Line Bus Tour that explores over 40 aircraft stored outside the museum.

IMAX: The museum has several movies. Click here for price and schedule

You can also plan your visit to see the Blue Angels practice. The schedule is here.

Finally, we strongly suggest downloading the Self Guided Tour before you go!
The museum has 150 restored aircraft, as well as other aircraft on loan from other United States military organizations, such as the Coast Guard.
Many of the sculptures and paintings in the museum were created by the former museum director, Captain Robert L. Rasmussen (who retired in 2014).

The plane above the sculptures is the A-1 Triad, the Navy's first aircraft.
There are also quite a few exhibits. This jeep is part of  the World War I exhibit.
We learned these early planes had no way to recycle the castor oil used to lubricate engine parts. The oil went through the engine, into the air - and onto the pilot. Pilots wore scarves to keep the spray of oil out of their mouths.
The USS Texas is probably the Navy's most interesting ship, and is currently a floating museum in Houston.  It is one of only seven still floating battleships to have served in both WWI and WWII.  It was one of the biggest ships floating when it was launched during WWI. In fact, the Texas was such a juggernaut the Japanese found it impossible to sink her in WWII. 

Many of the Navy's firsts happened aboard this ship, including an analog system which was the forerunner become today's computer guided weapon systems, and the first ship to use the Navy's new radar system. It was also the first ship to launch airplanes off its deck.  One of its guns was refitted to be a hydraulic launcher.
An F6C Hawk, which was made by Curtis Aeroplanes. These were used in the 20s and 30s by the Navy.
This is a very hands on museum, with many displays designed to be touched.
Several planes have clear panels, so the inside structure could be seen.
There is also quite a few planes and helicopters set up so you can climb in - although many of them are a tight squeeze!
According to my notes, this is a F3H Demon.
Another touchable engine. This a Wasp engine, which was used in the 20s.
This is a much more modern plane engine. The orange paint shows where the engine has been cut, to show the interior of the chambers.
The Blue Angels Atrium. These are A-4 Skyhawks, and were used extensively in Vietnam. The first pilot captured was flying a Skyhawk when he was shot down.
A Photo Banshee. This plane was filled with concrete and used in a children's playground for many years. It was eventually rescued and restored.

The museum has been restoring planes for years, especially ones pulled out of Lake Michigan. The Navy used to use Lake Michigan for training, which explains why there are so many planes at the bottom!
The one and only VH-3 Marine One, a modified helicopter that flew Presidents Nixon and Ford.
This is the Coast Guard exhibit in Hanger Bay One.  We were bad bloggers and don't have any notes on either plane. Oops.
A modern plane engine. F explained to us how these engines work: suck, squeeze, bang, and blow. The engine sucks in air as the fan blades spin, squeezes (compresses) it, then bang, the air is mixed with fuel and ignited, an the air blows out the back, which creates thrust.
E-2C Hawkeye. These planes have been used by the Navy for over 50 years.
This is a FG-1D Corsair,best known as being the plane flown by the Misfits of the Black Sheep Squadron.
FJ-2 Fury  Apparently, there were problems launching these from flight decks, so the FJ-2 wound up being used by the Marines instead.
Nope, not an aircraft! This is a fascinating display of how the Navy recovered the Apollo capsules.  Although we spent all morning exploring this museum, we barely scratched the surface. It's a good thing this museum is free, because we need to make another trip to see the rest!


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