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About the Museum

Naval Aviators first took flight over Pensacola, Florida, in 1914 and more than a century later, their successors roar through those same skies.  This enduring story is told at the National Naval Aviation Museum, one of the largest museums of its kind in the world, located on board historic Naval Air Station Pensacola.

From the wood and fabric NC-4 flying boat that made the first transatlantic flight in 1919 to the sole surviving aircraft of the pivotal Battle of Midway in June 1942, the museum displays some 150 historic aircraft.  Exhibits place you on board a carrier flight deck to learn about the most demanding operations in all of aviation and in a diorama of the World War II experience from home front to Pacific battles.

In the towering Blue Angel Atrium visitors can gaze up at a diamond formation of A-4 Skyhawks in the familiar colors of the famous Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron.  The ceremonial center of the museum, host to speeches by a president, astronauts and Medal of Honor recipients, it regularly is the scene of graduations, retirements and changes of command.  This provides the unique opportunity to learn about Naval Aviation history while witnessing time-honored ceremonies involving uniformed personnel serving today.

In addition to the historic aircraft and exhibits, visitors can experience flight without leaving the ground in a multitude of flight simulators, enjoy a movie in the Giant Screen Theater and grab some refreshments in the Cubi Bar Café that contains colorful plaques and furniture from the famed Officers Club at NAS Cubi Point, Philippines.

The National Naval Aviation Museum normal operating hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM CST seven days a week except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.



Importance of Naval Aviation in American History

During the twentieth century, commonly called “The American Century,” few military organizations played a more crucial role than Naval Aviation. 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.

Naval Aviation has also been at the cutting edge of aerospace expeditions, from the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by an aircraft, exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic, and journeys of discovery into outer space. 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, the site of the nation’s first naval air station. Since 1914, 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. It makes perfect sense that Pensacola has a world-class Museum to commemorate its place, and that of Naval Aviation, in history.



Published: Wed Jun 12 14:59:42 EDT 2024