Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Thursday, December 15, 2016

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Yesterday we drove about 30 miles to Pensacola, Florida to tour the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Admission, parking and tours are free. What a great place to learn about the history of aviation for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. And, it is completely funded by private donations; no tax dollars used here. The plane out front is like the one in the movie Top Gun.

We got there just as a trolley tour was boarding to drive around and show visitors some of the planes parked outside. Unfortunately, the guide was very difficult to understand. We only were able to get less than half of what he was telling us.

Many of the planes have interesting histories. This plane was the only plane allowed to fly after all air traffic was halted on September 11, 2001. It brought firefighters from Georgia to New York to help with the rescue efforts.

Lots of the planes are kind of funny looking because their wings are folded up or back. That's common for many Navy planes so they take up less space on an aircraft carrier.

Many planes here have been rescued and restored. This one was pulled from the bottom of a reservoir in California. It will eventually be restored to like new condition. Hard to believe as its in lots of pieces right now.

After our trolley tour, we joined a walking tour of the museum. Our guide was Bob Thomas, a retired Navy pilot. He guided us through the museum for over 1.5 hours, and was excellent. He told us so much history of the planes. His tour made our visit so much more enjoyable.

The museum chronicles the history of planes from their invention through modern times. I didn't realize that planes were even a part of WWI. This was a WWI German fighter that was the best plane of its time.

This huge "flying boat" plane was the first to cross the Atlantic in 1919. Only ten of them were built. This is the only one left in the world.

The Navy is very proud of its Blue Angels. There are several displays about them. These four are hanging in the atrium. They can be viewed from below and above. Very cool.

Our guide, Bob, served aboard the USS Midway during the Vietnam War. He was part of the evacuation of Saigon. He told us a story we'd never heard before. After the US evacuated the embassy, lots of South Vietnamese helicopters flew out to the Midway with refugees. The Midway had over 4,000 refugees on board when all was said and done. Just before they were going to leave the area, a small Cessna plane flew over. The pilot dropped a note to the deck letting them know he was a South Vietnamese Air Force Major and had his wife and five children on the plane. He had one hour of fuel left and asked that they move the many helicopters on the deck so he could land his small plane.

The commander had his men push some of the choppers into the water to make room for them. This pilot had never landed on an air craft carrier, but he managed to land his plane and save his family. The crew were so moved by the event, that they raised over $10,000 in a day to help them. The family ended up settling in Florida where they opened a restaurant; and all five children attended college. The small plane was shipped to this museum, and has been on display here ever since.

We really enjoyed our visit. Many planes are the last of its kind left in the world. A great look into some of histories amazing moments.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!


  1. That is an amazing museum we have toured it twice, so much to see, glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I agree it is a wonderful museum. If you have time there is another museum just outside of Hurlburt Field in Ft. Walton that is John's favorite.


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