National Naval Aviation Museum
|National Naval Aviation Museum|
The National Naval Aviation Museum, formerly known as the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Naval Aviation Museum, is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum first opened in 1962.
As its name suggests, the museum is devoted to the history of naval aviation, including that of the U. S. Navy, the U. S. Marine Corps, and the U. S. Coast Guard. More than 150 aircraft and spacecraft are on display, including four former Blue Angel A-4 Skyhawks (the Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola), the Curtis NC-4 (the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic), U. S. Coast Guard helicopters, biplanes, a K-47 Airship control gondola and tail fin, an aircraft that President George H. W. Bush trained in, and the S-3 Viking used to transport President George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 (see Navy One). These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the Museum's 300,000 square feet (30,000 m2) of exhibit space and outside on the Museum's 37-acre (150,000 m2) grounds. The museum also functions in coordination with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIRSYSCOM or NAVAIR) as the Navy's program manager for nearly all other retired Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft on display aboard U.S. military installations in the United States or overseas, or in numerous other museums or public displays. These other aircraft continue to remain the property of the Department of the Navy and are typically identified at these locations as being "On Loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum."
In addition to the displays, the museum operates an IMAX theatre, museum store, and cafe. Also the museum is the home of the National Flight Academy, a 6-day program designed (in partnership with the Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts) to teach 7th through 12th grade students about the importance of science and math in aerospace careers. The Academy is currently planning a 245,000-square-foot (22,800 m2) expansion to the museum which would add classroom and dormitory space for the students during their stay.
The museum is open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Parking and admission to the museum are free, though donations are welcome. Some exhibits inside the museum, such as the theatre, charge separate admission.
Practice demonstrations by the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, may be viewed from the museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between March and November. These practices are weather permitting, and a tentative practice schedule may be viewed on the Blue Angels’ website.
Captain Robert L. Rasmussen, a retired Navy captain, former Navy fighter pilot and former Blue Angel demonstration pilot, is the current director of the National Naval Aviation Museum. He hand-sculpted many of the statues and painted many of the watercolor and oil paintings in the museum as well.
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