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Fodor's South Florida 2014
Pensacola Naval Air Station
Pensacola Naval Air Station Review
Locals almost unanimously suggest this as the must-see attraction of Pensacola. As you drive near it, don't be alarmed if you're suddenly struck with the shakes—they're probably caused by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels' aerobatic squadron buzzing overhead. This is their home base, and they practice maneuvers here on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30 from March to November.
Then stay late—the pilots stick around after the show to shake hands and sign autographs. During the show, cover your ears as the six F/A 18s blast off in unison for 45 minutes of thrills and skill. Watching the Blue Angels practice their aerobatics is one of the best "free" shows in all of Florida (your tax dollars are already paying for these jets). It's also home to the National Flight Academy, which teaches the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) during an immersive experience for students aged 11-17.
National Museum of Naval Aviation. Within the Pensacola Naval Air Station, this 300,000-square-foot museum has more than 140 historic aircraft. Among them are the NC-4, which in 1919 became the first plane to cross the Atlantic; the famous World War II fighter the F-6 Hellcat; and the Skylab Command Module.
Other attractions include an atomic bomb (it's defused, we promise), and the restored Cubi Bar Café—a very cool former airmen's club transplanted here from the Philippines. Relive the morning's maneuvers in the 14-seat motion-based simulator as well as an IMAX theater playing Fighter Pilot, The Magic of Flight, and other educational films. Pensacola, also known as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation," celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation in 2011. 1750 Radford Blvd., 32508. 850/452–3604. www.navalaviationmuseum.org. Free, IMAX film $8.75, Children 5-12 $8.25, 4 and under free. Daily 9–5.
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