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Trip Report Florida, The National Naval Museum

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Leaving the Pensacola Airport, I make a quick stop for lunch with one of my favorite girlfriends, Wendy. Less than twenty minutes later I arrive at U.S Navy Base at Pensacola home of the world famous Blue Angels and The National Naval Museum. Parking and admission to the Naval Museum is free so it has already been worth the drive.

To my surprise, 2011 is the 100th year anniversary of the Navy which was established in May of 1911. A free guided tour begins with a nice history lesson on the birth of the Navy and it's first airplane, a flying boat.

For sure, in 1911 the operation of any flying machines was a dangerous mission and a few pilots were lost in the process.

Do you where the first Navy bombing in foreign waters occurred? It was in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Apparently, while performing aerial reconnaissances over the area an irritated naval aviator dropped bars of soap on the Mexicans who were firing shots at his flying boat. Guess he was trying to get them to clean up their act.

This and many other interesting stories are told during our tour by a volunteer who has been involved with the Navy practically all his adult life.

Today, all airplane registration numbers in the United States begin with the letter “N”. This process began as a part of Naval history attributed to the “Navy Curtis” (NC) which was a flying boat designed to patrol and fly across the Atlantic.

Even Henry Ford, the famous automaker has a part in Naval history. Mr Ford's contribution, the fully aluminum framed, Ford Tri-Motor. Used as a transportation aircraft it took two days combined with an overnight train ride to get from the East Coast to Los Angeles. Now the same trip is done in about six hours.

From a two pilot safety hazard aircraft at it's birth, the Navy's flying boats soon became monstrous machines that could sustain flight for up to twenty four hours. Others like the PB2Y-R5 flew military officials around to places like Tokyo Harbor for the signing of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II.

Today, flying boats and even the once thought to be sophisticated F-14 of the movie Top Gun fame are a thing of the past. With the advance of warfare systems and technology, the present Navy airplanes are machines that could not even be imagined one hundred years ago.

Launching from an aircraft carrier on the high seas practically anywhere in the world, one airplane can carry and deliver over 15,000 pounds of bombs into enemy territory. A far cry from a few bars of soap.

Whether you are a military or aviation and airplane junky or not, if you are in the area, I think a visit to the National Naval Museum is a worthwhile trip. Who knows you might even meet or become a Blue Angel because of it.

Video:http://youtu.be/EGZM4QD2IA4

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