The National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) of Pensacola, Florida is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, having first opened its doors to the public on June 8, 1963. The museum started quite small, utilizing a small white clapboard building built and last used during the expansion of NAS Pensacola that accompanied World War Two, with a few static display planes. Today the museum features nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibition space with over 150 air and spacecraft on display, an outdoor airfield that hosts the Navy’s Blue Angel acrobatic squadron who perform practice demonstrations twice weekly, an IMAX theatre, “3D Maxflight simulators” and is one of the world’s largest aviation museums.
Devoted to the history of naval aviation, including that of the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and the US Coast Guard, The museum also functions in coordination with the Naval Air Systems Command as the Navy’s program manager for nearly all their retired Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft that are on display at US military installations both in the United States and overseas as well as managing a vast fleet of historic aircraft on loan to numerous other museums around the world.
The museum is kicking off it’s year-long celebration of it’s golden anniversary on Saturday, June 22nd:
At 10AM the museum’s special 50th Anniversary exhibit will be opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Exhibit traces the evolution of the museum, presenting highlights and milestones of the past half-century as the museum grew from the modest facility with a small collection of 1963 to the tremendous world-class aviation museum of today.
At 11AM, As part of NNAM Discovery Saturday series, aviation author Brad Elward will do a presentation on the Lockheed S-3 Viking. Elward is the author of a book on the subject, “S-3 Viking – In Action” and will discuss the history of this important aircraft which entered service in 1974 and the series remained on active frontline service until 2009, performing admirably in the 1991 Gulf War, performing attack, tanker, and electronic intelligence duties, and launching ADM-141 TALD decoys. The aircraft also participated in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s. The presentation will take place at the actual S-3 Viking, used to transport President George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in 2003 for his “Mission Accomplished” speech, announcing the end of major combat following the US invasion of Iraq. For its historic flight, following the custom for aircraft carrying the President of the United States, the Viking used the call sign “Navy One“, becoming the first any only aircraft to use that call sign in history.
Starting at noon, the museum’s Cubi Bar Café will be serving birthday cake with the purchase of lunch, and a 1PM there will be free admission to the museum’s IMAX theatre for a showing of “Magic of Flight” featuring the Blue Angels.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is open daily from 9AM-5PM and is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit the National Naval Aviation Museum Website.