Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back To Florida

Despite the rain, we headed east 30 miles back to Pensacola FL to visit the Naval Air Station Museum.  It turned out to be a good day to be inside.  We arrived in time to take the guided tour conducted by a volunteer who is a former serviceman.  He took us from the first airplane used by the Navy in the early 1900s to the planes of today.  He had many amusing comments along the way. 

This is a Sopwith Camel, made famous by Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip when he used it to fight the Red Baron.  Note Snoopy is the pilot!

This is the plane that Bush Sr. trained in to become the youngest military pilot.  He later flew an Avenger off an aircraft carrier and crashed but was rescued.  He visited the museum and viewed an Avenger on the USS Cabot flight deck mock-up in the museum.  The Cabot had quite an illustrious career.

This is the plane of the commander immortalized in the TV series Black Sheep Squadron.  Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (12/4/12-1/11/88) was a USMC officer who was an American fighter ace during WWII.  He was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  He commanded the USMC squadron VMF-214, the Black Sheep Squadron, during WWII.  He became a prisoner of war. 

This is an F3F-2 that met its end on August of 1940 in the waters off San Diego.  It was being flown by Robert E. Galer, who became a Brigadier General in the USMC.  Its engine failed during a test flight and he bailed out.  In 1990, Galer was reunited with the plane after it was discovered by sailors searching for a downed helicopter.  It was missing a wing but was otherwise perfect, the only military model of the F3F-2 to survive the war.

These are more modern day jets that have wings that fold so they can be stored on the aircraft carriers, taking up less room.

Next we rode the tour bus to the restoration lots and garages.  There are lots of aircraft waiting to be restored but sequestration has affected this area also.  Much work is done at this museum by volunteers.

We had tickets for the I-Max movie Magic of Flight but had time to grab some lunch in the cafe beforehand.  The food was excellent and since we were on base, no sales tax!  After lunch we saw one of the two movies offered.  Ted also bought a simulator ticket but I passed.  Turns out there are two different sets and Ted had the one that didn't turn you 360 degrees and I would have been fine. He said it was fun and interesting.  

After his turns down the pool slide yesterday and the simulator today, Ted also climbed into the cockpit of a Blue Angel and took his seat on a 40 mm anti aircraft gun turret to show his friends his new "skeet" gun.  He has moved on from putting hats on every statue at least!

A Sikorsky VH-A Sea King that served Presidents Ford and Nixon is also at the museum.  You will remember it from the famous victory sign photo of Nixon before boarding as he left the White House for the last time.  A mannequin of him sits inside.


Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels and that moniker is used all over the area from car washes, to day care to pizza.  The cancellation of the two shows they do annually at the base cost the merchants $4 million in revenue.  More unintended consequences.

Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror ~ Pappy Boyington.

1 comment:

Rick and Brenda said...

It is too bad about the Blue Angels. I have seen a lot of air shows here in Millington when Navy Memphis was an active military base.
Ted looks good in the jet and with his new skeet gun.