The National Museum of Naval Aviation is one of the most celebrated attractions in Pensacola. At this amazing institution, visitors can admire more than 150 restored aircraft, the likes of which date from the 1920s to the modern era. Complementing the aircraft are thousands of Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps artifacts, and you'll also want to make time for the IMAX films and the flight simulator.
National Museum of Naval Aviation
As far as aviation museums are concerned, the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola Florida is one of the largest in the world. Visitors can easily spend a few hours gazing at all the relics that are on display, especially since a convenient café restaurant can be found onsite. You might wait to eat until after you take a ride on the flight simulator, however. This fifteen-minute ride uses video and real motion technology to help make its jet fighter experience feel more realistic. It's the next best thing to actually flying.
National Museum of Naval Aviation visitors can also go on pretend test flights that see them sitting in real cockpits. From March to November, they can also hope to witness a Blue Angel practice session. The renowned Blue Angels are a Navy flight demonstration squadron that performs numerous air shows throughout the country. Their practice sessions at the National Museum of Naval Aviation are among the most popular Pensacola events, and often times, they are followed by pilot autograph sessions.
Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are when the Blue Angels practice sessions are most often held, and there is bleacher seating for approximately 1,000 people. If you wish to witness a session, you can also bring a lawn chair or blanket and sit on the grass. There is no fee to watch, and 8:30 a.m. is the usual starting time, weather permitting.
Time and budget allowing, visitors to this wonderful Pensacola aviation museum can consider taking in an IMAX performance. The National Museum of Naval Aviation is home to one of the largest IMAX theaters on the planet. Most of the films relate to aviation and space exploration, as you might imagine, though you never know what might be showing. Past shows have revolved around animals, for example, and they can be an ideal diversion for families with younger kids.
Additional fees apply if you wish to watch an IMAX show during your National Museum of Naval Aviation visit. You won't have to pay extra to enjoy a guided tour, however. Retired military personnel serve as guides for the free tours, and the Information Desk is the starting point. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Self-guided tours of the main museum can also be enjoyed, as can special trolley tours that highlight the numerous aircraft that are parked outside. Rounding out the tour options are the aircraft restoration tours. These tours provide excellent insight into the museum's maintenance and restoration operations and are available Monday through Friday, provided that you make a necessary appointment.
The Pensacola museums can be great places to spend some time when a break from the area beaches is in order. For those who wish to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation, it is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. All other days of the year, it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located aboard the Pensacola Naval Air Station. The physical address is 1750 Radford Boulevard.