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  #1  
Old 05-18-2009, 06:53 PM
NYTOM NYTOM is online now
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Posts: 1,156
Talking Flash goes to P-Cola

Now that's the kind of story I love to find on my PC when I sign on.
Great write up, great photos and just the kind of trip I dream about.
Very high on the motivation scale. Wow, talk about a magic carpet.

Flash Goes to P-Cola.....finally!

Date: May 15-17, 2009.
Route: 52F-0R4-82J-0R3-52F
(those are zeros, not capital O's)
Time: 3.5hrs there, 4.0hrs back.

Just because is all. For many years I've wanted to visit the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. For the six and a half years my RV-6 has been flying, it's never landed in Florida. Now it has.

The opportunity came up to go to the museum with two of my ex-military friends, who now drive RVs. So on Friday morning, after pushing out the Fri/Sat/Sun edition of the website, we climbed in the planes and launched. My travel companions on this trip were Rick Freeman (RV-8), who flew helicopters for the Army and later Phantoms for the Navy and Ross Burgess (RV-6), who flew Phantoms and Tomcats for the Navy. They both spent time in P-Cola.

The trip down was no sweat. One stop in Louisiana at Concordia Parish (0R4) for $3.00 fuel. There was some Wx that we had to skirt around as we got near Mobile, AL, but the XM weather made finding a solution painless. We landed 3.5hrs later at Ferguson airport (82J), just north of the Pensacola NAS base. The rental car showed up about ten minutes later, as we were tying down the planes and getting our gear out.

After dropping the rental car guy back off at his place, we continued on to the base, where Ross and Rick pointed out all the places they did stuff. Dunk tank building, marching on this field, O club, etc. I enjoyed having the tour guides.

The Blues are based here, as you know. Ross pulled into the parking lot where they park - all empty spaces (on a trip this weekend at an airshow). I thought I'd get a picture of me in the Skipper's parking spot, so I got out of the car with Rick. There was a young man there at the locked fence who motioned us over and asked if we would like to tour the hangar. Yes. We had been on the base for about nine minutes and were getting a personal tour of the Blue Angels hangar. I like this place <g>. What a great guy.

After that we went to the museum for about an hour before they closed for the day. We were planning on spending all of Saturday at the museum. I'll just say it's as amazing as you might think.

I sat in the A-4, F-4 and F-14 'tourist cockpits' and got a quick summary of some of the operational aspects from two guys who flew 'em. "Move the throttles up until they stop, then outboard and up for AB. Swing that bar down and wrap your fingers around it to keep your hand from sliding back when you're shot off the boat. Feel that button on the outboard side of the throttle? That's to turn on the strobe with your pinky before you take the cat shot to let 'em know you're ready. You can't salute at night - they can't see you. That's how you know this is a Navy Phantom cockpit and not an Air Force one." That kind of stuff...

The F-4N that is on display in the museum is bureau #153915. When we got back, Ross looked through his logbook and found that he flew it twice. The F-4 in VF-111 livery in the painting in the thumbnail below had a bureau # on it from a plane that it turns out he flew a few dozen times also (in the reserves). The 'A' model Harrier in the museum above the F-4 was flown by fellow 52F RV-8 pilot Jerry Lawlor (his 10th Harrier flight as a Marine). Jerry and Ross flew these planes 35 years ago and now they fly RVs from the same airport today. Cool, huh?

After the museum closed for the day we went to Flounders for a seafood dinner and a quick trip to the beach (gotta get some seashells and sand for the kids), then off to the hotel where we each had our own rooms. Snore all you want, man!

The next morning we drove over to iHop. Ross recognized a gentleman he knew in another booth and went over to say hi. Jerry 'Devil' Houston.....MIG killer. Google him, you'll be impressed. So, Saturday was off to a good start <g>.

We pulled into the museum at 0900 and spent the next several hours there. Details in the pictures below. It's an amazing place. They have the NC-4 in the center of the room. First aircraft to fly across the Atlantic.

We ate lunch at the base's golf course restaurant and then went back to the museum. After that we went to the base exchange, then had dinner with Mr. Ed Miller and his wife. As Rick's skipper, Mr. Miller taught him how to stay alive flying helicopters in Vietnam. This is the 77th Aerial Rocket Artillery Unit we're talking about (link). Very humbling stuff, and you'll see both their names on the webpage if you go to the link in the previous sentence. What a privilege to get to eat dinner with Mr. Miller and his wife!

Sunday started with another trip to iHop, then out to the field for the trip back. There was Wx in the area and guaranteed wet later in the day, so we launched and stayed VFR with the help of XM weather. Had to deviate a little south for a bit, which added 30 minutes to the flight, but can't complain. XM WX helps us make smart (and safe) decisions. One fuel stop and lunch at Chili's in Abbeville, LA (0R3). Back home safe on the ramp 52F around 2:30pm local.

I flew my RV-6 seven and a half hours this weekend. Saw some amazing hardware, shook hands with bona fide war heroes, ate some swell fish and checked another state off the list.

It's 0705 local as I finish typing this up, and an RV-8 just flew over my neighborhood. Saw it out the dang window. Ain't that cool? dr


Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/VansAirForce/PCola_2009



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Last edited by DeltaRomeo : 06-09-2009 at 04:25 PM. Reason: added text of story to Tom's nice post for those that didn't see it on the front page)
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2009, 06:58 PM
CJK CJK is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Middle TN
Posts: 86
Thumbs up National Museum of Naval Aviation

That museum is probably my favorite in the world.

Through a typical Navy mixup, I was sent TDY to Pensacola a week earlier than I should have been, and I ended up spending almost every day at the museum. It was a life-changing experience, literally -- after hanging around all those Navy aircraft for several days, I decided to become a Naval flight surgeon instead of going into practice once I finished my cardiology fellowship.

I'm now back in cardiology, but those 4 years on active duty were among the very best of my entire life.

If you are ANYWHERE near NAS Pensacola, it's well worth spending a day there.

-- Chris
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2009, 08:51 PM
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Bubblehead Bubblehead is offline
 
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Location: Keller, TX
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Default

Three of my kids and I flew to Pensacola from Daytona Beach in a 172 back in 2000 just to see the museum. We landed at a general av airport and got a taxi to the museum. It is a truely great museum. 4 years later one of those kids enlisted in the USN and spent a few months in Pensacola going to tech school to become an Aviation Machinist Mate. Just got out after 5 years of service including a tour in Iraq. Funny how life works sometimes. Well, maybe not so much.
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2009, 11:11 PM
Captain Sacto Captain Sacto is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 146
Default National Museum of Naval Aviation

CJK writes... That museum is probably my favorite in the world.

And I completely agree!

I was there just over a month ago (daughter is in Navy Flight School, and was just moving from Pcola). The museum has just about one of everything that the Navy flew, and tour docents who flew some of them.

Unlike some air museums, you can get up close and personal with many of the a/c, and inspect the pro workmanship.

Another plus, if you time it right, you can see the Blue Angels practice from the grandstands in back of the museum.

Allow extra time, you'll be there a while.

.
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  #5  
Old 05-19-2009, 02:20 AM
Bob Axsom Bob Axsom is offline
 
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Default Echo

It has without question the highest visual quality display of aircraft and the only display covering the history of US Naval Aviation. My personal favorite. I also enjoyed Doug's write up and relived our visit mentally through his words.

Bob Axsom
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  #6  
Old 05-19-2009, 08:28 AM
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William Slaughter William Slaughter is offline
 
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 473
Default Matchless history on display

I was lucky enough to spend a whole day at the museum a few years ago, and it is truly a magical place. Early on in the day, I was fascinated by all of the 1950's jets that I'd read about as a kid, and that you just can't see anywhere else, but the highlight of the day snuck up on me later. I'd been admiring the nice Dauntless down on the floor for a while before I read the details on the display plate. That aircraft actually fought in the Battle of Midway! It literally gave me goosebumps. I can't wait to go back.
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  #7  
Old 06-06-2009, 07:08 AM
amed amed is offline
 
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Location: Park City, UT
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Default Try Dayton, OH

The museum at Wright Patterson AFB near Dayton, OH. is also an excellent museum! If you have never been, take the time and treat yourself. Plan for a whole day because it's big and there is a lot to see!
Aside from the Smithsonian, it is probably my favorite museum... Like the Naval Aviation Museum in P'Cola, a definite must see!
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  #8  
Old 06-06-2009, 08:36 AM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
 
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Default Don't forget Pima!

First, I have to agree with the above posts that the Museum of Naval Aviation is just fantastic; my wife and I spent a day there and didn't get to see everything. Gotta make another trip over to Pensacola one day to cover the rest of it.

The USAF Museum in Dayton is also a great museum; I've been there 2-3 times... it takes more than just one day to see it all. The trips I made to see it were in the 1998-2001 time frame, but they've added a new hangar and made some improvements since then, so I have to go back to Dayton someday as well.

My next favorite museum is the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ. My first trip there was with my Dad and brother when we were kids back in '81-82. The museum just keeps getting bigger and better, with new hangars, displays and aircraft. I stopped in again last month on an RV trip to see their latest improvements and to see two particular Navy machines that my Dad flew in the early days of Vietnam... AP-2H 135620 and VP-3A 150511. It was pretty cool to walk around and photograph these two ships that Dad flew as a "kid" back in '64-67.

One other cool thing to see while in Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum. My brother and I did the tour there back in '97... and once again, I wanna go back and see it again! Would be nice to take the longer, more in-depth tour.

So many cool museums to see, so little time...
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