The mission of the National Naval Aviation Museum, an official Department of the Navy museum, is to “select, collect, preserve and display historic artifacts relating to the history of Naval Aviation.”
At the core of the Museum’s collections are more than 700 aircraft — most of which are on display at other museums, with approximately 150 located aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola. These include record-setting aircraft like the NC-4 flying boat, the first plane to fly across the Atlantic, as well as combat veterans, including an SBD Dauntless that flew at the Battle of Midway, two Vietnam MiG-killers, an A-7 Corsair II that logged missions over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and the last F-14 Tomcat to fly a combat mission.
Though the aircraft are the largest of the Museum relics, they are just one dimension of the collection. More than 4,000 uniforms, flight gear, weaponry, medals and decorations add a personal touch to the story of Naval Aviation. In addition, the Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library, which houses personal and official papers of prominent Naval Aviators, squadron records and a photograph collection numbering more 350,000 images, is a significant repository of Naval history and draws researchers from around the world.
As the Museum has grown, so has its popularity. In the last decade alone, visitation has more than doubled, approaching one million in some years. The National Naval Aviation Museum has achieved recognition as one of the world’s premiere air and space museums and one of the most-visited museums in Florida. The Museum also received the prestigious American Association of Museums’ accreditation in 2002. Our visitors come from every state in the Union and more than 60 foreign countries. On a given day, more than 70 percent of our visitors are from outside Florida. With each addition to the Museum, there has been a commensurate increase in visitation.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is part of the Navy’s museum system, the largest of 10 official Navy museums located throughout the United States. Information about the Navy museum system can be found at the Naval History and Heritage Command website.