Located less than 45-minutes from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is one of the greatest collections of American History: The National Naval Aviation Museum. Located within the Pensacola Naval Air Station (NAS), the Aviation Museum is a collection of over 250 aircraft, centuries of military artifacts and one-of-a-kind treasures from our nation’s past.
Upon arrival to the museum, guests are greeted by knowledgeable staff members, the IMAX Theater and of course, a couple of airplanes hanging in the lobby. For aviation junkies and Average Joes alike, the museum displays information in an easy to understand and family friendly manner sure to keep large groups together and all ages mesmerized.
The main building of the museum is home to early decade’s aircraft including bi-wing contraptions, “flying boats,” and even the world’s first fighter jet! Guests are also introduced to early model flight suits, memorabilia, video areas streaming content from periods throughout the history or Naval Aviation and a set of retired Blue Angels’ planes.
Once you have taken in everything that can be absorbed in the main museum building, guests are encouraged to take a peak at the newly added “Hanger One,” filled to the brim with modern military aircraft. There are fighter jets hanging from the ceiling, cargo planes cut in half on the ground so that you can see inside, and F-8 cockpits opened at eye level to see the internal workings.
Along with the array of aircraft and artifacts, the museum has some other really neat features. Their IMAX Theater screens films every hour and features topics from the recent “Hubble” film to the military themed pictures you would expect at a military museum. Patrons can also get the full effect of World War II and grab a bite to eat at the Cubi Bar & Café modeled after the famous South Pacific haven for soldiers overseas. To top it all off, take your turn at the multiple flight simulators located throughout the museum to see the full experience from a pilot’s point of view.
Pensacola NAS is also home to the world famous Blue Angels, so if they are in town, get there early to watch them practice overhead and even sign autographs upon landing.
So, for those of you looking to change things up and check out something new during your vacation this year, make sure the National Naval Aviation Museum is at the top of your list!