The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. Share the excitement of Naval Aviation’s rich history and see more than 150 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 over 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on its 37-acre grounds.
The Museum captures Naval Aviation’s heritage and brings its story of challenge, ingenuity and courage to you. 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. Enjoy free guided tours and retrace the NC-4’s first flight across the Atlantic. Fly in one of our full motion simulators or see The Magic of Flight, our own Laser Powered Giant Screen Digital Theater 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 authentic Cubi Bar Café, decorated with more than 1,000 squadron and unit plaques reassembled from the historic Officers’ Club at Cubi Point in the Philippines. The Museum’s West Wing is devoted almost exclusively to World War II carrier aviation and showcases a full-size replica of the aircraft carrier USSCabot’s island and flight deck. Famous World War II aircraft such as the Corsair, Dauntless and Hellcat stand nearby ready for take-off, while other magnificent birds fly overhead. Strap into one of the many cockpit trainers for pretend test flights or try your hand at defending a ship from Cabot’s anti-aircraft gun battery on the Main Deck. 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.
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.