Coolest. Museum. Ever!
So Saturday morning the weather once again said clear skies until about 2 pm. So I lathered the whole family up in sunscreen and we headed out to the beach. As we crossed the bridge into Pensacola Beach the bottom fell out and it rained so much I refused to get out of the car while we waited to see if this was just a "small pop up shower". It wasn't! So we decided to head back to the house, change our clothes, pack our beach clothes and take them with us, and head to the Naval Aviation Museum. It was so cool we spent 5 or 6 hours there and not one tantrum or "I'm bored" was had.
This place is the most well thought out, well designed, and most interesting museum I've ever been to. I would have loved to have stood and read more of the signs but Sarah and Cody were having too much fun running around so I kept up with them and let Chris take his time reading and being in heaven.
What I loved most about this place was I didn't see one single "do not touch" sign, sure there were a few "do not climb" but those were necessary because they had so many awesome cock pits that you could to climb into and flip switches.
It was so amazing to see all the huge planes and jets. They even have parts of a zeppelin hanging on the ceiling! They have a huge sea plane that was one of the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. And they have a Marine One, which I learned is only called that when the President is on board. I also learned that a lot of the planes on display came from Lake Michigan. Apparently a long time ago when they decommissioned a plane they would just sink it in the lake. So now they've been working on pulling them up, restoring them and putting them on display.
One last cool thing about this museum before you scroll through and look at the pictures. On the second floor they have a flight deck simulation and we happened upon it right as it was about to start. It's a movie that they let small groups in. First there is a small movie while you are on some transport plane that explains all the different people you'll see working once we arrive at the carrier. The captain explained that it was like a bag of skittles and told what all the different color uniforms indicated and the fun nicknames they had, like the fuel guys are called grapes because they wear purple. Then, you "land" on the carrier and move to its deck. On deck you watch as a couple of helicopters and about 5 jets take off and land. They blow wind at you and the smell of jet fuel as the jets take off. Sarah was holding her hair cause she didn't want her pony tail to blow away. And I couldn't tell whose smile was bigger, Chris's or Cody's.
Alright, on to the pictures, scroll as quickly as you please.
Sarah climbing into one of the older versions of the Blue Angels cockpit.
Sarah and Natalie in some propeller plane. (I didn't read very many labels, sorry.)
Cody playing on the carrier command deck play structure. That was his FAVORITE part of the museum.
Chris and Cody in "the greatest place on earth" according to Chris.
Sarah showing me this cool seat she found. It's a full scale model of the Little Boy, you know the atomic bomb.
So what if I let my kids sit on bombs.
Full scale model of the Fat Man, atomic bomb.
Cody manning the gun turret.
Sarah working the other side of the turret.
The family that shoots down planes together, stays together?
In front of a WWI bunker.
The WWI bunker was right outside of the Cubi Cafe which was such a cool place to eat. The walls were covered with plaques from different squadrons and missions. We had a great time reading all the fun call signs and playing eye spy with Sarah having her find the different symbols. Where we were sitting you could see the bar area and it was decorated with different pilot helmets. Really neat stuff to see.
I tried to buckle Sarah into this flight chair.
When I couldn't figure it out, a helpful veteran volunteer strapped her down.
Cody and I flying the Sea Cobra.
Sarah in some jet. Sorry, reading is not my strong suit.
Chris and Sarah all ready to go in the Sea Cobra.
Cody took a while to warm up to playing in the cock pits. But here he finally was enjoying himself. The A-7 was his favorite and got a little annoyed when it was another kid's turn. He kept grabbing the joystick and yelling, "Blast off!"
Then we went out to Hanger One to see some more cool stuff.
In front of the Marine One. It's ok to call it the Marine One here because they had a President Nixon on board.
Chris in front of the last Tomcat to fly a mission.
A little background, my kids love Little Einsteins cartoons. And the bad guy in them is a big blue jet named, Big Jet. So when they see the Blue Angel in Millington they often call it Big Jet. Here Stephanie and Sarah were walking past and Sarah reached out and grabbed the front and started saying, "Ha ha Big Jet! I got your nose! I got your nose!"
This is Chris's favorite jet, the F4 Phantom 2. They had the Blue Angel cockpit at the front of the museum but the kids ran off before Chris got a turn. He politely asked if we could circle back before we left. Thankfully they had this F4 Phantom 2 in Hanger One so we didn't have to go all the way back to the front before we left. He was very happy.
Pretending to fly the F4 Phantom 2.
I highly recommend the National Naval Aviation museum for anyone going to Pensacola! Especially since it's free. I'm sure we'll go again when the kids are older especially since we didn't see everything.