NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION Naval Aviation transcends both time and space, from wood and fabric biplanes, to the frontiers of space. The Museum captures Naval Aviation's heritage and brings its story of challenge, ingenuity, and courage to you. The National Museum of Naval Aviation is one of the largest and most beautiful air and space museums in the world.
Share in the excitement of Naval Aviation's rich history. See over 140 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum's 291,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on the Museum's 37-acre grounds.
Soar with the Blue Angels in the dazzling seven-story glass and steel atrium that showcases four A-4 Skyhawks in a diving diamond formation. View them at eye-level from the mezzanine. Retrace the first flight across the Atlantic; stand on the flight deck of the USS Cabot.
Enjoy guided tours; fly an F/A-18 mission in Desert Storm through our motion-based flight simulator. See The Magic of Flight, our own IMAX® film projected on a seven-story high screen, and feel like you've had a bona fide ride with the Blue Angels. Enjoy a delicious lunch at the CubiBar ... more. less.
Cafe, decorated with over 1000 squadron and unit plaques reassembled from the historic Officers' Club at Cubi Point in the Philippines.<br><br> Take the Flight Line Bus Tour on a free 20-minute tour of the approximately 40 aircraft displayed on the flight line behind our Restoration hangar. The Museum also tells the human side of Naval Aviation and features memorabilia from each era of fighting including personal mementos from historic battles, flight logs, vintage equipment, and flight clothing. The West Wing is devoted almost exclusively to World War II carrier aviation and showcases a full-size replica of USS Cabot's aircraft carrier island and flight deck.<br><br> Famous World War II aircraft such as the Corsair, Dauntless and Hellcat stand nearby ready for take-off on the wooden flight deck, while other magnificent birds like the Wildcat, Avenger and Kingfisher fly overhead. Kids of all ages love strapping into the many cockpit trainers for pretend test flights or trying their hands at defending a ship from Cabot's anti-aircraft gun battery. And they can experience the thrill of flight in our 15-passenger full motion flight simulator.<br><br> There's so much to see and do, you'll want to stay all day! This Museum, preserving the history of Naval Aviation, is the most visited museum in the State of Florida. There is no charge for admission.<br><br> The Museum is open to the public from 9:00am to 5:00pm seven days a week, 362 days each year, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. National Museum Of Naval Aviation 1750 Radford Blvd. Pensacola, FL 32508 Free Admission Open 9 AM to 5 PM Daily HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NAVAL AVIATION In America's 20th century history, few military organizations played a more crucial role than Naval Aviation.<br><br> In war at sea, eclipsing the battleship as the decisive weapon, aircraft carriers projected their powerful air wings over vast expanses of water, striking with surprise at enemy fleets and land bases, then disappearing with equal swiftness. In times of peace, the carrier and her battle group provided American political leaders a flexible, always ready and potent way to respond to regional crises wherever and whenever American vital interests were threatened. "Where are the carriers?" has been the first question asked by American presidents at the start of every national security crisis since the end of World War II.<br><br> Naval Aviation has also been at the cutting edge of aerospace history: the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by an aircraft, exploration of high altitude flight, exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic and exploration of outer space. Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy pilots pioneered the use of one of the century's most dynamic inventions for peaceful and combat purposes: the helicopter. The common denominator for those who participated in this exciting history was their training in a sleepy little Southern city on the Gulf of Mexico: Pensacola, Florida.<br><br> These young men and women all arrived in Pensacola with the same dream: winning the coveted wings of gold. It was here that the fledglings tested their mettle against the demands of flying aircraft. They learned the unique skills required to fly from ships at sea, find distant targets and return to their moving, rolling and pitching "airfield," often in bad weather and frequently at night.<br><br> It makes perfect sense that Pensacola has a world-class museum to commemorate its place in history. Located on 37 acres of wooded land adjacent to Forrest Sherman Field and historic Fort Barrancas at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the National Museum of Naval Aviation attracts approximately a million visitors every year. It is currently the second-largest aviation museum in the United States, housing more than 140 aircraft, scores of scale models, hundreds of paintings and photographs in fascinating exhibits, and an impressive research library.<br><br> Among other things, the 291,000-square-foot structure of steel and glass features a life-size replica of the flight deck and island superstructure of the World War II light carrier USS Cabot, with period aircraft on deck and suspended overhead. The 10,000-square-foot Blue Angel Atrium encloses a quartet of gleaming McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk jets once used by the renowned flight demonstration squadron, suspended beneath a skylight in their famous diamond formation. An awe-inspiring menagerie of aircraft, artifacts and memorabilia associated with Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Aviation, the National Museum of Naval Aviation is truly a national treasure.<br><br> The Museum began with the vision of one man, many years ago. In 1955, Magruder H. Tuttle, a Navy captain and Chief of Staff to the Commander, Naval Air Basic Training Command at NAS Pensacola, discussed with CAPT Bernard M.<br><br> "Smoke" Strean his concern that the training curriculum offered the students no exposure to the history of Naval Aviation. As is still the case today, time and budgets were tight, and the essentials of flight training left little surplus. The pair agreed that the best alternative to yet another class for flight students would be the creation of a small museum commemorating Naval Aviation achievements that would instill in young Naval Aviators a sense of pride in their elite service.<br><br> They presented the idea to their boss, VADM Austin K. Doyle, then Chief of Naval Air Training, who additionally saw a public relations benefit to the idea. He forwarded the proposal to the Chief of Naval Operations with his endorsement, but the response from Washington, DC, was lukewarm.<br><br> The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations made clear that such an enterprise would have to come from the command's own operating funds and that no additional appropriations in funds or personnel could be used for the purpose. Moreover, active duty personnel could not solicit donations to promote an official activity. CAPT Tuttle's idea seemed at an impasse.<br><br> For the moment, there could be no aviation museum at NAS Pensacola. Tuttle approached Fay with his idea and received an enthusiastic response. Armed with Fay's approval, Tuttle finally received a go-ahead for fundraising by the active duty personnel in the Pensacola area.<br><br> Secretary Fay followed with an announcement on 14 December 1962 establishing the Naval Aviation Museum and charging it with the selection, collection, preservation and display of appropriate memorabilia representative of the development, growth and heritage of Naval Aviation. On 8 June 1963, the Naval Aviation Museum was opened. Housed in a renovated wood-frame building constructed during World War II, it was a modest start.<br><br> With a mere 8,500 square feet available for display, Museum Director CAPT James McCurtain displayed eight aircraft that were rotated periodically with others in storage at the Naval Air Station. The growing collection at Pensacola quickly overwhelmed the capacity of the Museum to display the aircraft, let alone restore them, and storage space became difficult to find. An executive committee was established by the Chief of Naval Operations in March 1964, and at their first meeting, in January 1965, they agreed that the Museum needed to expand to meet the growing demands placed upon it.<br><br> New construction appeared to be the only practical solution, but again the chief obstacle was funding. The answer proved to be a private fundraising corporation. The Naval Aviation Museum Association was established on 5 December 1966 and received tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.<br><br> Led by retired ADM Arthur W. Radford, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Association could raise funds in support of the Museum unfettered by restrictions on official Navy activities. The Association contracted with a New York architect, Paul K.Y.<br><br> Chen, to begin preliminary design on a new Museum building in 1967. In June 1970, CAPT Grover Walker replaced James McCurtain as director of the Museum, and Radford and Walker reviewed the proposed design for the new facility. Although it appeared modern and stylish, Radford pointed out that it would not lend itself to expansion as the years went on.<br><br> He wanted Walker and Chen to get together and come up with a design which could be built in increments to expand with a continually growing collection. The result was a five-phase design, using pre-engineered steel, which could be built in modules over the years. The Naval Aviation Museum Association accepted the design and set about raising funds nationwide to begin construction of Phase I, which would cost $4 million.<br><br> Phase I was dedicated and delivered to the Navy on 13 April 1975, debt-free and paid for in full. A column-free structure enclosing 68,000 square feet, the new building was a far cry from the old. Still, only a fraction of the total aircraft collection could be housed inside, with the others stored in hangars along the air station's seawall or in the open behind the Museum, exposed to the corrosive effects of the Gulf's salt air, rain and sun.<br><br> Nothing builds success like success, and the new Museum, coupled with the inspiring vision for its future, brought in ever-increasing financial support from private individuals and industry. The mission of the Association was expanding, and it was decided to change the organization's name to the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Inc. With the new name came a bold, new mission statement: "To foster and perpetuate the Naval Aviation Museum as a medium of informing and educating the public on the important role of United States Naval Aviation and to inspire students undergoing naval flight training to complete the program and become career officers; to inspire young people to develop an interest in Naval Aviation; to serve as a philanthropic corporation in assisting the development and expansion of the facilities of the Naval Aviation Museum; to receive, hold and administer gifts received ...<br><br> in the best interests of the Naval Aviation Museum; and to do any other business, act or thing incidental to and necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation ...." Under the leadership of former Chief of Naval Operations and Joint Chiefs Chairman ADM Thomas Moorer, the Foundation turned its attention to further additions to the Museum's infrastructure. Phase II, completed in 1980, added appendages to the north, east and west sides of the octagonal floor layout and brought the Museum's total area to 110,000 square feet, at a cost of $1 million. In May of that year, the Museum Foundation launched its magazine, Foundation.<br><br> The biannual journal of Naval Aviation history has grown exponentially in popularity ever since. The scope of the publication has been gradually refined over the years, and it has become widely known in the historical community as an excellent source of first-hand accounts from the men and women who made Naval Aviation history. Foundation signified a growing identity of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation as more than just a fund-raising organization - it was now reaching out beyond the walls of the Museum and touching lives around the world, military and civilian alike.<br><br> Through the efforts of the Foundation's leaders during the late 1980s - ADM M.F. "Mickey" Weisner and RADM George M. "Skip" Furlong - along with the Museum's new director after 1987, CAPT Robert Rasmussen, Phase III was successfully completed in 1990.<br><br> This phase added a second octagonal module to the original of Phase I/II. The modules were joined at their apex by the square, 75- foot-high Blue Angel Atrium. This addition brought the total space of the Museum to 250,000 square feet at a cost of $10.5 million.<br><br> The additional exhibit and work spaces allowed for a more robust approach to acquiring aircraft, and in the late 1980s the Museum became active in the search for and recovery of naval aircraft wherever they could be found. Several rare aircraft were recovered from the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, including the only surviving Vought SB2U Vindicator, now fully restored and on display. Among the other noteworthy aircraft recovered from the depths is a rare SBD-2 Dauntless that participated in the Battle of Midway.<br><br> With the creation of a deputy director post in the Museum in 1990, the full-time curatorial staff set about a shift in their philosophy of exhibit design, incorporating greater emphasis on personal memorabilia, uniforms, equipment and weapons into the displays of naval aircraft and powerplants. Out of this new approach came such exhibits as "Home Front USA," "Pacific Air Base" and "The Hangar Bay." These three exhibits give visitors an opportunity to walk through a small- town Main Street circa 1943, a US Marine Corps expeditionary airfield during the Guadalcanal campaign and the hangar bay and below-deck spaces of a World War II jeep carrier, respectively. In 1989, the National Museum of Naval Aviation Volunteer Organization was formed to help staff the Museum.<br><br> This organization has steadily grown in size and involvement. The docents began conducting guided tours of the Museum in 1990 with overwhelming public response, and it is now considered an indispensable part of the Museum's public appeal and educational mission. Many of the volunteers are retired or active duty personnel who bring their invaluable experience and time to the Museum.<br><br> Their stories and insights bring life to the static displays. In November 1992, the Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library opened its doors inside the Museum. Staffed by professional librarians and volunteers, this new facility made accessible thousands of documents and records which for years had accumulated in storage, uninventoried and in disarray.<br><br> Over time, the library's collection has grown to include more than 7,000 volumes, ranging from personal memoirs to aircraft carrier cruisebooks to historical works. The library's photograph collection includes more than 350,000 images of aircraft, ships, people and historical events. All of this combined with an extensive collection of letters, manuscripts, technical manuals and diaries makes the Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library one of the most complete sources of Naval Aviation information in the country.<br><br> Under the leadership of VADM Jack Fetterman, USN (Ret.) , Phase IIIA, a four-part program costing $13.5 million, began in 1994. This expansion included a new entrance hall, the enormous bronze and marble monument "The Spirit of Naval Aviation" and the 534-seat IMAX® Naval Aviation Memorial Theater. Phase IIIA also brought about the premiere of "The Magic of Flight," an IMAX® film created specially for the Museum featuring the Navy's Blue Angels.<br><br> Phase IIIA brought the total area of the Museum to 291,000 square feet. Achievement in the fields of literature and academia have become hallmarks of the Museum and the Foundation. Since 1987, the Foundation has hosted an annual symposium in Pensacola to promote awareness of Naval Aviation history and to foster discussion of Naval Aviation within the contexts of history and current events.<br><br> The symposium attracts several thousand visitors each spring and has featured such notable people as astronauts Eugene Cernan, Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong, Medal of Honor awardees James Stockdale and Joe Foss, and former President George H.W. Bush. In addition to the panel discussions and social events, the symposium also includes the presentation of two awards sponsored by the Foundation: The R.G.<br><br> Smith Award for Excellence in Naval Aviation Art and the Arthur W. Radford Award for Excellence in Naval Aviation History and Literature. Additionally, every two years a select group of individuals is enshrined into the Hall of Honor, which recognizes extraordinary acheivement in Naval Aviation.<br><br> This pantheon of heroes includes such greats as Patrick Bellinger, Eugene Ely, "Pappy" Boyington, "Butch" O'Hare and John Glenn. Another major educational initiative undertaken by the Museum and Museum Foundation was the creation of the Flight Adventure Deck. Combining interactive displays with a regular staff of public school teachers, the Flight Adventure Deck works hand-in-hand with schools to teach students about gravity, lift, propulsion and a host of other basic principles involved in the science of flight, all in a fun, hands-on atmosphere.<br><br> While this program has been enormously successful on its own, it has also served as a springboard from which to launch the Foundation's next, even more ambitious educational initiative: The National Flight Academy. The Academy will be constructed in the next phase of Museum expansion, and it will provide students with a more intense and exciting educational experience in a summer-camp-like setting. What started as one man's vision to educate young aviators and endow them with a deeper appreciation of their heritage has evolved over the years into a steadily growing and expanding institution of national significance and of major economic importance to Pensacola.<br><br> The Museum is now considered the leading tourist attraction between Orlando and New Orleans and one of the top 10 attractions in Florida, making Pensacola an ever more popular destination for out of town visitors. Through dynamic exhibits, educational initiatives, publications and research, the Museum has far surpassed the concept that fostered it. The National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation share a long and proud history.<br><br> It is a history of challenges overcome by hard work and determination. Throughout it all, a vision has endured: that the proud history and traditions of Naval Aviation can be preserved for each new generation, and that the honorable men and women who have served our country can continue to offer their strength, zeal and experience to the community. <br><br>