One of the most interesting things to see Pensacola
is the National Naval Aviation Museum
. Here you can go back in time to the early days of the fabric and wood biplanes, all the way to the space crafts used to explore the moon. This unique museum includes the history of not only the Navy, but the Marines and Coast Guard as well.
Opened in 1962, the Naval Air Musuem sits on 37 acres of land, the museum is devoted to the history of naval aviation and displays over 150 aircraft and spacecrafts. Believe it or not, this place rivals the Smithsonian. It has nearly 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, including there own restoration hanger with a flight line behind it displaying nearly 40 aircraft. When you walk inside, one of the first and most awesome exhibits is that of the world famous Blue Angles; this aerial stunt team flies out of the base at Pensacola. The seven story glass and steel atrium features four A-4 Skyhawks in dive formation. If you'd like a closer, eye level look, you can head to the Second Deck.
Some of the other featured displays include the Curtis NC-4, which was the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic, and the historical S-3 Viking jet, which was used to transport president George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 where he made his famous "Mission Accomplished" speech
. You can also see an aircraft his father, George H.W. Bush trained in along with one of the senior Bush's uniforms.
In the West wing, you can relive the days of WWII with the recreation of scenes from that era, including a country store, Pacific Island and the full sized flight deck of a U.S. carrier flight deck. You can also enjoy displays of personal mementos, flight logs, clothing, and view the some of the most famous aircraft used to defend our nation then - the Corsair, Dauntless and Hellcat.
'Spacewalk' as you tour the Space exhibit, which displays Skylab 2; the Apollo command module that took the all-Navy crew to the Skylab orbiting the Earth. You can also relive that first lunar landing in 1969 as you walk through their recreation of the event.
You can tour the other planes through the warehouse-like-hanger at your leisure, enjoy one of the IMAX shows or grab a bite at the Cubi Bar Cafe. Take a picture of yourself sitting in a cockpit or venture into the motion flight simulator. There is a lot of history to be seen and enjoyed, so plan to spend some time here if you can; it's well worth it!
Parking and admission are free, as is the bus tour outside, but donations are greatly appreciated. The facilities are normally opened from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 362 days if the year. (They are closed on some holidays)
Pensacola Naval Air Station
Known as "the Cradle of Aviation", in 1914, the federal government made it the first training base for Naval Aviators. Since then, the Pensacola Base has trained hundreds of Aviators for both war and peace.
In 1825 President John Quincy Adams and Samuel Southard, Secretary of the Navy, arranged to have a naval yard built on the Southern tip of Escambia County; this site on Pensacola Bay is where the air station is today.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com