Exploring Northwest Florida
Exploring Northwest Florida
The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is Northwest Florida's most visited museum and offers a wealth of aviation history and interactive high-flying fun.
Located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station naval base, home of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron and the birthplace of naval aviation, the museum represents the history of flight of the U. S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.
Like its counterpart, the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, the National Naval Aviation Museum is free and open to the public. Its 300,000 square-feet of climate controlled exhibit space houses 150 vintage aircraft and over 4000 pieces of memorabilia, including uniforms, flight gear and weaponry. There’s even an exhibit on the comedian whose U. S. O. shows kept the troops entertained for 50 years, Bob Hope.
Flight simulators let you experience flying for a small charge. For $5 for the first ride and $2.50 for the second, a 15-passenger Motion Based Flight Simulator takes visitors on a virtual flight with the Blue Angels or on a combat mission in Desert Storm.
Want to show them who's Top Gun? The Top Gun Air Combat Simulators allow up to two people to ride in a single F-14 cockpit for $25, and free stationary flight simulators allow visitors to strap in, manipulate the controls and fly their own imaginary missions.
The National Naval Aviation Museum features a wide variety of helicopters, biplanes, and cockpit trainer,s along with a collection of early aircraft including the WWI Navy/Curtiss Aircraft and the FH-1 Phantom that performed the first pure jet aircraft carrier landing in 1946. Some of the aircraft on display include:
**NC-4 Flying Boat, the actual aircraft that completed the first ever Atlantic air crossing
**AV-8 Harrier “jump jet”
**SBD Dauntless that flew at the Battle of Midway
**F-14 Tomcat, the last one to fly a combat mission
**A-7 Corsair II from Desert Storm
**A-4 Skyhawk, four of them in a diving diamond formation as flown by the Blue Angels
**F-4N Phantom II that downed a MiG-19 fighter during combat over North Vietnam
**Apollo and Mercury Space Capsules
Other exhibits include a WWI campsite, an island in the Pacific during WWII, the “Home front” in 1943, the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier, the Skylab space station, aircraft used by the U. S. Coast Guard, a Vietnam P.O.W. exhibit, and Lighter Than Air dirigibles.
Visitors may tour the air museum on their own or take a free guided tour with a knowledgeable tour guide. For lunch or a quick snack, the Cubi Bar Café, based on the historic officers’ club at Cubi Point in the Philippines serves sandwiches, soups and salads from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
The IMAX Naval Aviation Memorial Theatre offers movies such as The Magic of Flight, Fighter Pilot and Deep Sea from 10 Am to 4 PM. IMAX tickets are $8 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 5 to 12, seniors and military personnel in uniform.
The Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library houses books, manuscripts and research materials and the Art Gallery offers an outstanding collection of aviation art. In addition to the museum, visitors can climb aboard a trolley for a 20-minute tour of 40 larger aircraft on the flight line behind the restoration hangar. Tours of the hangar itself take place at 10:30 AM Monday through Friday.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station (one of seven active military bases in Northwest Florida) at 1750 Radford Boulevard and is open daily throughout the year from 9 AM to 5 PM (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years day). Admission to the museum is free. Call (850) 452-3604 for more information.