McDonnell-Douglas A-4F Skyhawk: 1974-1985. It had carried nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis, provided close ground support and anti-aircraft suppression in the Vietnam War, was used by the Israelis in the Yom Kippur War, and would later be used by the British in the Falklands War and -- long after the Blues transitioned to another aircraft -- it was still being used by the U.S. in the first Gulf War. Indeed, though the Navy recently retired it in 2003, a retired Blue Angel Commander has assembled a squadron of A-4’s for his company that he hires out to provide attacking “adversary” fighters to oppose current U.S. pilots in flight training. In 1974, however, the Skyhawk was not the first or even second choice of the Blues -- they had first requested and been denied both the F-14 and A-7. The A-4 was simply the only remaining fleet plane that would work for the Angels. Nevertheless, the aging aircraft was affectionately known as the “Scooter” because of its legendary maneuverability and served the Blues very well for over a decade. After 12 years of that duty, however, a mid-air collision during a show in 1985 killed Lieutenant Commander Robert Gershon and sped up the transition to a more modern aircraft in 1986. The photo (top center below) is the A4 Skyhawk Blue Angel displayed at the Florida Rest Area on Interstate I-10 (mile marker 30 west bound) in Santa Rosa County.
Let's see the NOW of the Naval Air Station Pensacola.
2014 marked the centennial anniversary of the nation's oldest Naval air station, Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Known as "The Cradle of Naval Aviation," NAS Pensacola is one of the largest training operations in the Navy and graduates nearly 60,000 students from its training programs each year. The programs spread from NAS Pensacola, to Corry Station, to Whiting Field and a small bit at Saufley Field. With an approximate $60 million economic impact on the region annually, the military base employs more than 23,000 personnel throughout greater Pensacola and trains individuals from every branch of the military, including the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and other defense-related agencies throughout the nation. There are even a few allied nations from around the globe that come to NAS Pensacola for their training. The overall growth of the military in Pensacola is absolutely amazing, and it continues to grow.
Now granted, this isn't an overhead view as the one the left.
But, this is the same area as of 2013. My how time does change.
The photo just above the paragraph is the USGS's in 1944,
this photograph was taken pre-Interstate 10 in 1962.
It has not been determined how much longer the City Field was used by the Navy. It was apparently completely abandoned at some point between 1940-44, as it was not depicted on the 1944 USGS topo map, the 1945 Mobile Sectional Chart, nor listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory. It may be difficult to see where the airfield used to be, but there are still landmarks that will help identify the site from the air. The western edge of the field was the railroad tracks on the left side of the photo. The northern portion of the field is where the interchange for Interstate 110 is now located (at the top of the photo). The eastern edge of the field was where today's 9th Avenue is located. In the photo, 9th Avenue is located just to the right of Davis Highway (the curved road that went through the middle of the field). Today, Davis has been divided (north & south) at the point it used to go through City Field. If you visited this site today, you would have no idea that this was once the site of the earliest auxiliary training fields for the U.S. Navy! This being another explanation and reason why Pensacola's Naval Air Station is called "The Cradle of Naval Aviation".
Saufley Field, 2007
Both of these photos are of when the Blue Angels made their pass of the Saufley Field Flight Tower in their Grumman F11F-1 Tigers in 1956.
The next photo is of Blue Angel #1 with #7 (a Grumman F9F-B Cougar) behind it on the tarmac.
The officers conversing is the "Flight Boss" CDR Edwards Holley (on the right) and an Air Field Officer.
Since this is the history (the THEN and NOW) of Pensacola, here is a small bit regarding the U.S.S. Pensacola.
U.S.S. Pensacola CA- 24 (1928-1946) and later the U.S.S. Pensacola LSD-38 (1970-1999)
Brief history for CA- 24: U.S.S. Pensacola departed Pearl Harbor on November 29, 1941 with the so-called "Pensacola Convoy", bound for Manila, in the Philippines. Near Bougainville Island, Pensacola's gunners helped repel two waves of Japanese bombers on February 20, 1942. No ships were damaged. Anti-aircraft fire and Lexington Combat Air Patrol planes shot down 17 of the 18 attackers. Pensacola continued to help guard the U.S.S. Lexington on offensive patrol in the Coral Sea until the U.S.S. Yorktown joined the task force on March 6. In June, with the U.S.S. Enterprise, put to sea on June 22, carrying 1,157 marines of Marine Aircraft Group 22 (MAG 22) to Midway. She patrolled and trained in Hawaiian waters until August 7. As Marines stormed the shores of Guadalcanal, the cruiser set course for the Solomon Islands in the screen of the U.S.S. Saratoga, the U.S.S. Hornet and the U.S.S. Wasp to support the leathernecks in that bitter campaign. In the Battle of Tassafaronga One of 18 torpedoes launched by Japanese destroyers hit her below the mainmast on the port side. Her engine room flooded, three gun turrets went out of commission, and her oil tanks ruptured to make a soaked torch of her mast. The oil-fed flames engulfed Pensacola′s main deck aft where torpedoes and machine gun ammunition exploded. Only supreme effort and skillful damage control by her gallant men saved the ship. The fire, punctuated by the frightful explosion of 8-inch projectiles in her Number 3 turret, gradually subsided. Pensacola made steady progress toward Tulagi. She arrived there still aflame. After 12 hours the last fire was quenched. Her dead numbered 7 officers and 118 men. 1 officer and 67 men were injured. There were several other battles the U.S.S. Pensacola endured in the Pacific War, doing quite well. She received 13 battle stars for World War II service.
After the end of World War II, Pensacola departed San Pedro on 29 April to stage with units of Joint Task Force One at Pearl Harbor in preparation for Operation Crossroads, the atomic bomb experiments at Bikini Atoll. She stood out of Pearl Harbor on 20 May, and reached Bikini on the 29th to serve as a target ship. She survived the tests of 1 July and 25 July. On 24 August, she was taken in tow for Kwajalein where she decommissioned on 26 August. Her hulk was turned over to the custody of Joint Task Force One for radiological and structural studies. On completion of these studies, her hulk was sunk on 10 November 1948 off the Washington coast. It would have been very nice if She was laid to rest here, as was the U.S.S. Massachusetts and the U.S.S. Oriskany. Well, we can't change the past... just learn from it. Below the photos is of the LSD- 38.
The U.S.S. Oriskany "Mighty O" in 2006 and up to now. She is one of the Top 10 artificial reefs IN THE WORLD to dive!!!
NOW, the Mighty O being laid to rest off the coast of Pensacola. The artificial reef is about 2.5 miles out.
U.S.S. Oriskany 1954
"Mighty O" 1970
Having covered the THEN and NOW of the Blue Angels, let's move back to the Navy Ship Yard's beginning.
1824, The First Lighthouse is Built
Below is the “actual” First Pensacola Lighthouse, followed by the newly constructed. The light from the “new” tower was first exhibited on December 20th, 1824 by Jeremiah Ingraham (he was a bachelor at this time). To produce a flashing signature, two groups of five lamps were fastened to opposite ends of a framework, which was rotated by a clockwise system. After two years at the post, Ingraham married Michaela Penalber of Pensacola. Together, they managed the light and raised three children at the station. When Jeremiah passed away
in 1840, Michaela took over responsibility for the light. In the late 1840’s, the clockwork mechanism failed and two men were hired to rotate the lamps by hand, until repairs could be made. Michaela served until her own death in 1855, when her son-in-law, Joseph Palmes, was hired as the lighthouse keeper. By 1850, regular complaints were starting to be voiced regarding the lighthouse. Trees on Santa Rosa Island were said to block the light and that the light was too dim. In 1852, a newly established Lighthouse Board recommended that a
“first class seacoast light” with a height no less than 150 feet in height be built at Pensacola. Congress allocated $25,000 for the upgrading to the Lighthouse in 1854 and an additional $30,000 in 1856. A site was selected a half mile west of the original location and work on the new lighthouse was supervised by John Newton of the Army Corps of Engineers. The construction was completed in 1858 and the lamp in the tower’s first-order Fresnel lens was first lit on New Year’s Day in 1859 by Keeper Palmes. The Tower stood (and still stands) 159 feet tall and was originally painted all white. The base of the new tower had (has) a diameter of 30 feet, tapering to a diameter of 15 feet at the top. Below and on the left is the first Lighthouse photo followed by the relocated,rebuilt and still used Lighthouse.
Well, we've covered the first two logistics aircraft in use for the Naval Flight Performance Team. Let's see the NOW!
C-130 Hercules, "call sign" FAT ALBERT
The Blues received their first U.S Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules in 1970. An all-Marine crew mans it. The C-130 is one of the only military aircraft to remain in continuous production for over 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules. Marine Corps’ C-130 Hercules supports the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, is the white, blue and gold multiengine transport that always sits near the runway where the Blue Angels perform. The C-130, known to the squadron as "Fat Albert," has become the most important aircraft in the Blue Angels’ inventory. Fat Albert flies the equivalent of eleven and one-half times around the world. Taking off from NAS Pensacola on the Thursday morning prior to the departure of the demonstration jets, the C-130 flies to the weekend show site to prepare for their arrival. Fat Albert has missed only two air shows in its history as the logistics air crew. However for both of the misses, the show went on, thanks to assistance provided by another Marine Corps C-130 squadron. Fat Albert, is one of the Marine Corps’ contributions to the recruiting efforts. It is packed with twelve and one-half tons of spare parts, support equipment and 30 maintenance crewmen. Just like the Marine Corps true grit motto, the C-130 is the "first to arrive and the last to leave" each show site. The Blue Angel maintenance crew refers to the C-130 transport as Fat Albert Airlines as it keeps a regular schedule between mid-March and mid-November, flying to more than 45 cities around the U.S. and Canada. While at air show sites the big bird stands ready to provide logistical support to the squadron. Fat Albert has helped the Blues maintain their proud tradition of never canceling an air show because of maintenance difficulties. On Sunday evening, following the conclusion of the weekend air show, the brightly painted C-130 once again returns home to NAS Pensacola. When the chocks are finally in place and the engines are shut down, the 30 maintenance support crewmen say goodbye to the C-130 until the following week when they start the process all over again. Without Fat Albert standing by, it would be difficult for the Blue Angels to complete their show schedule with the success and perfection that has made them famous.
We just went through the THEN of the Blue Angels. So get ready, we are going to the NOW.
F/A 18 HORNET
From 1986 to 1992 the F/A 18A & F/A 18B were used. The #7 was the F/A 18B.
From 1992 to present the upgrade of the Hornet went to the F/A 18C and #7 went to F/A 18 D.
McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18A Hornet: 1986-present (Now the “Boeing” F/A-18 Hornet). When first in service in 1978, the Hornet was designed as a “dual role” aircraft -- both interceptor and bomber. Though capable of speeds just under Mach 2, the Hornet was engineered to handle well at slow speeds for turning tight so as to get behind an adversary in a dogfight. Accordingly, the F/A-18 was perfect for demonstration team work and allowed the Angels to include new maneuvers in their routine. In 1992, the Blues took a page from the Thunderbirds and for the first time in decades visited Europe and for the first time ever deployed to once “iron curtain” countries -- including a flight over of the Kremlin itself! (The Navy was persuaded in favor of a European tour in part by the manufacturer who wanted to show their product to both present and future foreign buyers.) Going into its 20th year with the Angels in 2005, the Hornet has the longest service record with the team of any other formation plane and one of the best safety records.
Above, the A-4 Blue Angels in Diamond Formation. THE NORMAL SPACE BETWEEN THEM IS
ONLY 18 INCHES TO 4 FEET!
To the left is the former A-4 Blues in the Museum's Atrium, along with a huge American Flag.
Go See It!
1968-1970 the Blue Angels went to a C121J, Fat Alberts Grandfather
F4J PHANTOM II
McDonnell-Douglas F4J Phantom II was in service for the Blue Angels from 1969 to1973. When the Blues were looking for a new plane to replace the aging F11F, America was deeply involved in the Vietnam War. Accordingly, the Navy at first was not amenable to supplying the team scarce front line fighters from its depleted inventory. Again, inter-service rivalry guided the Blue’s history and provided the brass the necessary incentive. As the team’s Leader Bill Wheat later explained: “The way we got the F-4 was that we had heard the Air Force was going to get them” so he argued up the chain of command that it was not fair the Thunderbirds alone should have the Phantom: it had originally been designed for the Navy and it was the Navy which had first deployed it. In response, the Navy quickly found six “lead nosed” F-4’s (which were being used exclusively for carrier qualifications and had ballast in the nose rather than weapons and other combat equipment). With the increase in power of the big aircraft, the Blues were able to go through their familiar maneuvers in less time and thereby add more routines to the same 22 minute air show. However, the extra power also had its drawbacks: during a British Columbia air show one of the pilots unintentionally exceeded the speed of sound and shattered windows for eight blocks around the Canadian waterfront. Further, several accidents with the Phantoms occurred in later years, resulting not only in various severe injuries but also the death of Lieutenant Larry Watters in a 1972 solo accident and a fatal mid-air collision the following year that killed Lieutenant Commander Skip Umstead, Captain Mike Murphy and Petty Officer Ronald Thomas. These tragic accidents and the energy crisis caused the remainder of the Angel’s 1973 season to be cancelled and the fuel guzzling F-4 to be abandoned as the team’s plane.
In 1955 the Blue Angels jet was changed to the more powerful Grumman F9F-8 Cougar.The Cougar was only used for 2 years, 1955 & 1956. It was essentially a variant of the Panther with swept wings (to minimize the shock wave caused by speeds approaching the “sound barrier”) and a “flying tail” (to maximize control at those higher speeds), a more powerful engine (which allowed those higher speeds and required a lengthened fuselage) but without its characteristic wing tip tanks. The F9F-8 also had a dump valve in its wingtips, which allowed the Angels to add a new feature to their acrobatics: they dyed the planes’ fuel and released it at strategic points during their routine. This achieved the desired result of an impressive colored contrail tracing the path of the formation during its acrobatics. This also achieved the undesired result of spreading highly combustible and toxic vaporized jet fuel on the crowd. Their maintenance crew chief would later devise the simple solution of pumping smoke oil through a copper pipe running down the outside the plane’s fuselage ending at the exhaust nozzle and thereby accomplish the same effect without jeopardizing the masses with a petroleum mist hazard. Due to a better jet coming of age, this only used for 2 years.
The two photos in the center (below) is the
F9F-8 Cougar Blue Angel displayed at the Florida Welcome Station at the Florida - Alabama state line on Interstate I-10 (mile marker 4).
1949 - 1968 Blue Angels Douglas C54Q used for logistics
Fat Alberts Great Grandfather
F9F-2 and F9F-5 (variant) PANTHER
The Blue Angels began their transition to jets during the 1949 air show season and accepted the brand new Grumman F9F-2 Panthers during July. Although they continued to perform with the F8F-1 Bearcats the team became acquainted with the F9F-2 Panther between demonstrations at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas (where the U.S.S. Lexington now is as a military maritime museum). The Blues performed their last demonstration with the Bearcat in Madison, Wisconsin on July 30, 1950. On the onset of the Korean War the Team was disbanded and their aircraft was fitted for combat. On March 8, 1951 in Korea, the Blues leader -- Lieutenant Commander Johnny Magda -- was killed when his F9F was hit by anti-aircraft fire while he was attacking the bridges at the Hwachon Dam. He is the first Blues commander killed during combat. After the Korean War, on October 25, 1951 the team was recommissioned and NAS Corpus Cristi became the Blue Angels new Team Headquarters. In June 1952, the Blues started flying the Just six days after recommissioning they flew their first public display with the F9F-2 Panther at Beaumont, Texas.
Just two months after the first demonstration, the team transitioned to the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat and flew their initial demonstration on August 24. In 1947 the second Flight Leader, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Clarke, added a fourth Bearcat to the formation and produced the diamond formation, which became the Blue Angel trademark. By 1949 the team’s title (name) was added to both sides of the cowl. In 1949, the team acquired a Douglas R4D Sky Train for logistics to and from show sites. In other words, they carried crews, maintenance & gear.
The BLUE ANGELS 1st Team in 1946
Several portions of this information have been brought forth with the assistance of the Grumman History Center, the Blue Angels Alumni Association and Mr. Tom Kaminski. And just so you know, most of the pilots of the Blue Angels have either been students or instructors at Top Gun, or been adversary pilots at adversary squadrons. One guy is the out–of–control flight expert for the F-14 A/B Tomcat (decommissioned September 22, 2006). Some have flown combat missions in Libya, Desert Storm and in the Gulf War. These pilots STILL fly active duty in their assigned squadrons... before and after their Blue Angel appointment.
Here's a more en-depth history regarding the THENandNOW of the...
"NEW" LOCATION OF CORRY FIELD / CORRY STATION (in the west side of Pensacola, Myrtle Grove Community)
In 1927, the new Corry Field was an active aviation training complex where advanced fighter plane techniques were taught. In 1943, the Field was re-designated as Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS), continuing to serve as a training center for aviators through World War II and during the Korean conflict, until it’s decommissioning in 1958. The site saw its metamorphosis from flight training to technical training in 1960, when the first class of communications technicians (later knows as cryptologic technicians) arrived. Hangars were converted to classrooms and laboratories were stocked with sophisticated communications training equipment. To reflect this change, the Chief of Naval
Operations changed the name of Corry Field to Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC), Corry Station in 1973.
Corry was among the first Navy technical schools to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This accreditation assured that instruction was of the same quality as that offered in the best civilian vocational institutions, and that students may receive college-level credit for completed courses. By 1982, Corry had become the largest command in the Pensacola Naval Complex and its change from air facility to technical training was reflected by a change of appearance in the form of new buildings and facilities. By 1990, the base had expanded even more to incorporate the Optical man/Instrument man School which closed in 1996. Corry graduates over 7,000 students annually and is considered one of the U.S. Navy’s training showplaces, with detachments throughout the United States. NTTC’s role has changed over the years, but traditional pride still dwells within the station as it continues to provide the finest and best-trained personnel in the military. Now, let's take a look at the change.
Now, let's see (and read) about Corry Field / Corry Station's history.
Training began at the first Corry Field on July 1, 1922. The field was sandy & facilities were primitive. For a time, groundskeepers were on station to keep cows from wandering into the landing area during flight operations, and a bootlegger had set up a still nearby to supply the aviators with liquid refreshment. Eventually temporary facilities, including a small barracks, mess hall and garage, were built. The earliest depiction which has been located of Corry Field was a 1923 aerial view looking west at a long row of trainers lined up along the northwest edge of a large unpaved airfield, with a control tower on the northwest side & a hangar on the east side. Students, after completing their primary seaplane training, began their primary land plane instruction at Corry in the Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny”, replaced in late 1927 by the Consolidated NY-1. In 1927, at the end of the original 5-year lease period, the site was deemed too small, and a new & larger site, located 3 miles north of NAS Pensacola, was presented to the Navy by the County Commission. The Corry Field name was applied to this new site (which opened for flight training in 1927), and the older remote field in the became an outlying field (OLF) known as Old Corry Field.
THEN (Old Corry Field location at I - 10 and Davis Hwy)
USS Corry DD 334, 1921 Clemson-class destroyer
USS Corry DD 463, 1943 GleavesClass destroyer
(also known as Bristol-class)
LCDR William Corry
Corry Field was the first auxiliary field established by the Navy to support flight training operations at the Pensacola Flight School. With the announcement in November 1921 the land plane training would soon take place at Pensacola, Navy planners sought an additional practice field to accommodate increased training activity. Pensacola city officials offered a 250-acre site north of Pensacola for the new field. In 1922, the site was obtained from the Escambia County Commission on a no-cost, 5-year lease. The airfield constructed at this site was named Corry Field in honor of Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) William M. Corry, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Here is his brief history.
William Merrill Corry was born in 1889 in Quincy, Florida (just to the west of Tallahassee). Admitted to the Naval Academy in June 1906, he graduated in 1910 and spent the next five years serving in the battleship USS Kansas. In mid-1915, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Corry began instruction in aviation NAS Pensacola, Florida. He was designated Naval Aviator #23 in March 1916. In August 1917, Lieutenant Corry began World War I service in France, where he commanded Naval Air Stations at Le Croisicand Brest during 1918 and early 1919. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in July 1918. Corry remained in France for the rest of 1919 and the first half of 1920, involved in removing U.S. Naval Aviation forces from Europe as part of the post-war demobilization. In mid-1920, Lieutenant Commander Corry was assigned as aviation aide to the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, stationed on the Fleet's flagship, USS Pennsylvania. In early October 1920, while on a flight from Long Island, New York, his plane crashed near Hartford, Connecticut. Though thrown clear of the wreckage, the injured Corry ran back to pull the other officer free of the flaming aircraft. Badly burned during this rescue, he died on October 6, 1920. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during that accident. He is laid to rest in Eastern Cemetery, Quincy, Florida. His home town.
Corry Field / Corry Station (now the Center for Information Dominance Corry Station - and Naval Information Operations Command Pensacola tenant command),
and three ships have been named USS Corry in his honor (two of the three are below).
Before there were air planes or NAS Pensacola there was what the lighthouse was primarily built for, ships. Hence the Base starting out as the Navy Ship Yard. Let me give you a bit of history regarding Pensacola and the U.S. Navy.
USS LEXINGTON, CV- 2/ CV- 16
She received Her name for the 1775 Battle of Lexington
This is some very defining and brief deep history to read through, before the photos.
The USS LEXINGTON, CV-2 and upgraded (refurbished) to CV-16, she was originally built as a battle cruiser in 1921. The “Lady Lex” was converted to an aircraft carrier under provisions of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, receiving Her name for the 1775 Battle of Lexington during the American Revolutionary War. She was a vintage aircraft carrier during World War II, until the Battle in the Coral Sea when She received Her fate. She was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942. This being due largely by Japanese attacks and her ultimate doom occurring when the torpedoes in the aft of the ship exploded. The Lexington was scuttled by an American destroyer
during the evening of May 8th to prevent her capture. The ship that replaced the sunk Lady Lex was laid down with the call name of Cabot on July 15, 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass. In May 1942, USS Lexington (CV-2), which had been built in the same shipyard two decades earlier. In June, workers at the shipyard submitted a request to Navy Secretary Frank Knox to change the name of a carrier currently under construction there to Lexington. Knox agreed to the proposal and Cabot was renamed as the USS Lexington on June 16, 1942. She was launched on September 23, 1942, sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson. Lexington was commissioned on February 17, 1943, with Captain Felix Stump USN in command. With the Lexington returning to active status, the Japanese referred to Lexington as a "ghost" ship for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk in several occurring battles. This, coupled with the ship's dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as "The Blue Ghost". There were rumors during the war that the ship was so badly damaged it had to be scuttled at one point, but a newly built aircraft carrier was immediately deployed with the same name, in an effort to demoralize the Japanese.
Lexington being commissioned in February 1943, She saw extensive service through the Pacific War. For much of Her service, She acted as the flagship for Admiral Marc Mitscher, and led the Fast Carrier Task Force through their battles across the Pacific. She was the recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. She served the United States longer and set more records than any other carrier in the history of naval aviation. She still carries her knowledge, history and honor as a floating museum anchored at Corpus Christi, Texas.
She arrived at Pearl Harbor on August 9, 1943. She participated in a raid on the air bases on Tarawa in late September, followed by a Wake Island raid in October, then returned to Pearl Harbor to prepare for the Gilbert Islands operation. From November 19th to the 24th, She made searches and flew sorties in the Marshall Islands, covering the landings in the Gilbert Islands. Her aviators downed 29 enemy aircraft on the 23rd & 24th of November.
In April of 1947, Lexington was decommissioned, but was modernized and reactivated in the early 1950's, being reclassified as an attack carrier (CVA). She entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet. While in reserve, She was designated attack carrier CVA-16 on October 1, 1952. In September 1953, Lexington entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. She received the Essex-class SCB-27C and SCB-125 conversions in one refit, being then able to operate the most modern jet aircraft. The most visible distinguishing features were an angled flight deck, steam catapults, a new island, and the hurricane bow.
Later, She was reclassified as an anti-submarine carrier (CVS). In Her second career, She operated both in the Atlantic/Mediterranean and the Pacific, but spent most of Her time, nearly 30 years, at the NAS Pensacola as a training carrier (CVT). 1969, Lexington operated out of Her home port, NAS Pensacola, as well as NAS Corpus Cristi and New Orleans, qualifying student aviators and maintaining the high state of training of both active duty and reserve naval aviators. Her work became of increasing significance as She prepared the men vital to the Navy and Marine Corps operations over Vietnam, where naval aviation played a major role. Lexington marked her 200,000th arrested landing on October 17, 1967, and was re-designated CVT-16 on January 1, 1969. She continued as a training carrier for the next 22 years until being decommissioned November 8, 1991.
Lexington being decommissioned in 1991 has the Navy record being in active service life longer than any other Essex-Class ship.
Lexington was the final Essex-class carrier in commission, after the U.S.S. Oriskany had been decommissioned all the way back in 1976. The "Mighty 'O' " was laid to rest in 2004, it was decided to sink her as an artificial reef off the coast of Pensacola, Florida (NAS Pensacola within close proximity) in the Gulf of Mexico. After much environmental review and remediation to remove toxic substances, she was carefully sunk in May 2006, settling in an upright position at a depth accessible to recreational divers. As of 2008 the Oriskany is "the largest vessel ever sunk to make a reef". It is now popularly known as the "Great Carrier Reef", a reference to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Times of London named the Oriskany as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world. The New York Times Web video Diving the U.S.S. Oriskany explored the Oriskany wreck two years after its sinking, with great reviews.
We've just read through the U.S.S. Lexington CV- 2, CV- 16 ("Lady Lex", The Blue Ghost") close history... NOW let's take a look at Her history!
Pensacola Lighthouse is located at 190 Radford Blvd. Lighthouse lovers may want to check out the black-and-white Pensacola Lighthouse. Built in 1858 to replace an earlier, inferior lighthouse, it became a target during the Civil War for Union soldiers at Fort Pickens, aiming for the Confederate-held Fort Barrancas. The lighthouse was actually grazed by 3 cannon balls that were fired from Fort Pickens during the Civil War. Visitation of this historic site is free, yet will cost $5 when tours are open to walk the steps to the top of the lighthouse tower. Oh, by the way, the lighthouse is haunted and has ghost tours. No, they aren't kidding. In 2009, the SyFy TV show "Ghost Hunters" came to Pensacola investing several places. They confirmed every place they went to as having ghosts, orbs and apparitions. Go to the Ghost, Murders and Mayhem icon at the top of this page. There is information there and I'm still gathering the history regarding that.
After scheduled practice on Wednesday's, everyone can meet the Blue Angel pilots
in the National Naval Aviation Museum.
The Blue Angels flying over the World Trade Center in 2013. The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a flyover of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, in memory of the fallen.
The Blue Angels flying over the World Trade Center in 2000.
In 1976, the A-4 Blue Angels flying over U.S.S. Lexington at NAS
Pensacola, both at their home base. Lady Lex is now a Military Maritime Museum in Corpus Christi, but the Blue Angels still call NAS Pensacola their home! Everyone gets to see TWO AIRSHOWS a year (on Pensacola Beach at on Base) AND anyone can go watch practice behind the museum on Tuesdays (and some Wednesdays... when scheduled). Practice begins at 11 am SHARP. Check their schedule, rain may halt the practice. When they have Wednesday practice everyone can meet & greet the Blue Angels pilots in the museum's atrium (under the former A-4's).
A-4F Blue Angels flying their Fleur de Lis in 1984 (started in 1953 by Flight Team Leader Lt. Cdr. Ray Hawkins),
and yes they still close EVERY show with it.
F11F- 1 TIGER
The F11F- 1 Tiger was used between 1957 to 1968. (The "short-nose" was used in 1957-58 and the "long-nose" used from 1959-68.) Just before the Blues’ new leader Ed Holly took command in 1957, he had witnessed an Air Force Thunderbird show demonstrating the capabilities of their supersonic capable F-100 SuperSabre “and the noise it put out.” He concluded the Angels’ Cougar had become too long in the tooth: the Navy team needed an aircraft capable of flying the speed of sound too. As Holly later explained, Grumman’s supersonic F11F “was a stronger airplane than the F9F-8, but the burner was the main reason for going to it. The afterburner’s noise was a crowd pleaser.” (Having attended air shows growing up in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, I have to agree. Just as the spine of a World War Two buff tingles when a classic war bird’s piston engine is heard coughing to life and then starting to purr, watching a jet fighter suddenly go vertical, hearing the boom of its afterburners and seeing yellow flames come out of an exhaust nozzle is a primordial blue collar pleasure not to be denied.) The power of the Tiger allowed the Blues show to become more vertical than horizontal and thereby remain within the area of the airfield. The next year, in an air show attended by the Air Force General Curtis LeMay, the Navy team introduced its “back-to-back pass” where two planes fly straight and level down the flight line but the lower fighter is right side up and the plane above it is up side down. (Supposedly the proud LeMay threw his ever present cigar down and yelled “I don’t believe this!”) Though over time three team members -- Commander Nick Glasgow, Lieutenant Commander Dick Oliver and Lieutenant Frank Gallagher -- would be killed flying the F11F in separate accidents, the team continued to fly this last Grumman Angels mount for over a decade. Indeed, the Blues flew the Tiger far longer than it had ever been in operational use with the Navy.
Here is just a bit of his history via photographs.
General Daniel "Chappie" James Jr.
1606 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, on the east side of the road, one house north of its intersection with Moreno Street. His mother opened Pensacola's first African-American school on the site of the Memorial Plaza. The plaza includes his birthplace house, a granite memorial laser-etched with his likeness, and the enshrined "Chappie's First Steps," the weather-stained concrete stoop is all that remains of the school run by his mom.
Mr. Daniel (the second) is being pinned with his FIRST star by his son, Daniel (the third), and his wife, Mrs. Dorthy.
This is the U.S. Marines Huey UH-1 that was atop the Wall South. The center photo is what occured during Hurrican Ivan that came through Pensacola in 2004. This Huey had most of its flight hours in Vietnam and is the reason it was donated by the National Naval Aviation Museum. It is pretty obvious to see the damage incurred from the hurricane. The Huey was replaced with the U.S. Marines Bell AH-1J Cobra (also donated by the National Naval Aviation Museum) that also received its first flight hours in Vietnam. The third photo is of the Huey making a landing at the Wall South after time was taken to make it flyable. The following is a deeper look at the Wall South. The Wall South is the second of the ONLY TWO IN EXISTANCE, with the original in Washington, D.C. The Wall South is ½ the size of The Wall. Outside of its size, it is identical and is visited by Veteran's, family members of those lost and American's that just want to take in the awesome honor of The Wall South and the other War Memorials that are in the park. Further below you will see The Wall South with the Cobra that is now atop the monument. Scroll on down to see the monuments in Veteran's Memorial Park. The monuments shown are in the order of their occurance. THIS PARK IS WELL WORTH A VISIT!!!
The Wings of Eagles is a 1957 film starring John Wayne with the supporting cast of "Wings of Eagles" featuring Dan Daily, Maureen O'Hara, War Bond and Ken Curtis. This film is based on the true story of Frank "Spig" Wead" and the history of Naval aviation from its inception through World War II. The film is a tribute to Wead from his friend, director John Ford. John Wayne plays naval aviator-turned-screenwriter Frank Wead, who wrote the story or screenplay for such films as 'Hell Divers' with Wallace Berry and Clark Gable, 'Ceiling Zero' with James Cagney, and 'They Were Expendable' with John Wayne.
The 3 movie posters shown above are the actual movie posters that advertised the motion picture and are/were popular for movies. Below is the photo showing the crew, cast and sailors aboard the U.S.S. Philippine Sea CVA- 47 Air Craft Carrier. SIDE NOTE (regarding the ship’s deck): The picture, below to the left, easily dates itself. The people in the picture are standing on the USS Philippine Sea flight deck. Take notice, the deck is made of wood. In the next pictures you can see the change that has taken place for safety of the vessel, aircraft and aviators. The following, top right, photo below was taken aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. In aircraft carrier’s beginning landing arrangements were originally primitive (as was the vessel itself), with aircraft simply being "caught" by a team of deck-hands who would run out from the wings of the flight deck and grab a part of the aircraft to slow it down. This dangerous procedure was only possible with early aircraft of low weight and landing speed. Arrangements of nets served to catch the aircraft should the latter fail, although this was likely to cause structural damage. You can also see the “barricade” and is a rare emergency measure. With the growth and development of the ship/aircraft/equipment/technology landing larger and faster aircraft on a flight deck was made possible. The next photo, bottom right, was taken aboard the USS Nimitz, showing an F/A 18 landing on the deck and its tail-hook (or the “hook”) catching the arrestor cable(s) or “wires”.
“Wings of Eagles”
1957 motion picture
The first photo, below, is John Wayne arriving in Pensacola, for the making of the movie” Wings of Eagles “. Part of the movie, not all of it, was filmed out at NAS Pensacola in 1955. The movie came out in 1957. The first photo, obviously, was taken by Frank Hardy. Pictured next, John Wayne on the “Wings of Eagles” movie set while filming took place here in Pensacola.
The bell, the National Flag and Flag Ribbon of the ship to the right
1980, In home port at NAS Pensacola
1979, pulling into Her home port
at NAS Pensacola
1925, Lady Lex being built in Quincy, Mass.
The Blue Angels & Fat Albert's fly over for the U.S.S. Enterprise as it was underway conducting carrier qualifications in preparation for her work-up phase leading to its 21st deployment. Over 1000 Officers and Enlisted personnel watched their performance, some having never seen the Blue Angels before... this was their first time watching them.
EVERYONE LOVED IT!
The Blue Angels and Fat Albert's crews before the, huge, Pensacola Christmas Parade
in downtown Pensacola.
The Blue Angels in take off formation
before an air show.
This is the Naval Flight Performance Squadron
Here, when Daniel the III was a lieutenant, he received the first of his two Distinguished Flying Crosses from his father. "Chappie" was a Brigadier General when this occurred.
Colonel (at the time) Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr. in front of his F-4 Phantom in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a combined organization of the United States and Canada
that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for Northern America. Headquarters for NORAD is at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, Colorado. When he was promoted to four-star grade and was assigned as commander in chief of NORAD/ADCOM in 1975. In these dual capacities he had operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. On December 6, 1977, he assumed duty as special assistant to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force.
General James' VERY IMPRESSIVE military awards include the following -
Air Force Command Pilot wings
Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with three oak leaf clusters
Combat Readiness Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with star
Korean Service Medal with four campaign stars
Vietnam Service Medal with seven campaign stars
Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with seven oak leaf clusters
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Air Force Marksmanship Ribbon
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
The civilian awards that General James received included the following:
Builders of a Greater Arizona Award (1969); Phoenix Urban League Man of the Year Award, Distinguished Service Achievement Award from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (1970); American Legion National Commander's Public Relations Award, Veteran of Foreign Wars Commander in Chief's Gold Medal Award and Citation (1971); Capital Press Club,Washington, D.C., Salute to Black Pioneers Award (1975); and, all in 1976, the Air Force Association Jimmy Doolittle Chapter Man of the Year Award, Florida Association of Broadcasters' Gold Medal Award, American Veterans of World War II Silver Helmet Award, United Service Organization Liberty Bell Award, Blackbook Minority Business and Reference Guidance Par Excellence Award, American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, United Negro College Fund's Distinguished Service Award, Horatio Alger Award, VFW Americanism Medal, Bishop Wright Air Industry Award, and the Kitty Hawk Award (Military).
He was awarded honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of West Florida (yes, right here in Pensacola) in 1971; the University of Akron in 1973; Virginia State College in 1974; Delaware State College in 1975; and St. Louis University in 1976. He was named honorary national commander of the Arnold Air Society in 1971.
Daniel James's son, Lieutenant General Daniel James III, (BOTH BEING PILOTS) also served in the United States Air Force and in the Texas Air National Guard. He served from 1995 to 2002 as the Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard (the first African American to hold the post), and as Director of the Air National Guard from 2002 to 2006. In the summer of 2006, he retired from the Air Force at the rank of Lieutenant General after 38 years of total commissioned service, on active duty and as an Air Guardsman. Carrying on his dad's legacy, he was the first African-American to become the director of the Air National Guard.
Hence the old adage... "Like father, like son."
Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. was born right here in Pensacola on February 11, 1920 near the Pensacola Naval Air Station. In his teens, he pointed to a plane flying above his home and said one day he was going to fly. His friends quickly reminded him of his one handicap... he was black. Chappie never allowed racism to get in his way, however. He knew that someday he would fly.He was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four-star general. He has an awesome life to know and speak of. He graduated from the Tuskegee University in 1942 where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education. He continued civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program. He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps lieutenant later that July. Throughout the remainder of the World War II James trained pilots for the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron. General James was widely known for his speeches on Americanism and patriotism, for which he was editorialized in numerous national and international publications. Excerpts from some of the speeches have been read into the Congressional Record. He was awarded the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in both 1967 and 1968. He received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award in 1970 for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. His citation read "... fighter pilot with a magnificent record, public speaker, and eloquent spokesman for the American Dream we so rarely achieve."
T-28B Trojan, NAS Saufley, 1947
T-28C Trojan NAS Saufley Field, 1969
T-34B "Mentor" NAS Saufley Field, 1976
Saufley Field was used for the FEMA location
after Hurricane Ivan in 2004
N3N- 1 Yellow Peril Trainer, Corry Field 1938
Corry Station 2004
You can even get to walk through a 1940's "hometown" street and see life as it once was. You can even look through the windows of a home and a business of yesteryear.
Both of these photos give you a visual and a better understanding of the pilots properly (and safely) landing on the deck of an Air Craft Carrier.
The “Grand Fenile” pictures, regarding the movie, are the black and white photos of Ward Bond (character John Dodge), John “The Duke” Wayne (character Spig), and John Ford (Director). Seated beneath the three gentlemen and still in his well chair is the real Frank Wilbur 'Spig' Wead. Frank Wead also acquired a nickname of ‘Sparrow’ when he reported for "Class 1". This was the first class of regular officers sent to NAS Pensacola after the commencement of World War I. Now mind you, on 15 September 1919, Frank Wead was not the first Naval aviator. He was the first AFTER World War 1. Wead was assigned to a training flight team comprising of only three students; (1) LT (JG) Frank Wilbur "Sparrow" "Spig" Wead, USNA-1916; (2) LT (JG) Robert Moran "Jerry" Farrar, USNA-1916; and, (3) LT (JG) Calvin "Cal" "Pansy" Thornton Durgin, USNA-1916). The JG is the abbreviation for Junior Grade and is the same rank class as the Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant. He retired from the Navy at the rank of Commander in 1944.
Seeing as it is that I have just mentioned the U.S.S. Oriskany, here is a very brief history of the "Mighty 'O' ". She started off just after World War II in 1945.
Named for a village in central New York state, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War on August 6, 1777.
U.S.S. ORISKANY CV - 34
The MIGHTY "O", The "O" Boat
1987, In home port at NAS Pensacola.
Decommissioned just 5 years later.
1956, out in the Pacific Ocean.
Lady Lex in the Battle of the Coral Sea, 1942
Daniel James III
All of the beach photos below are from the mid-season air show for the "home crowd" on Pensacola Beach, which draws over 100,000 spectators every year! These are from their "rehearsal" the day before the show. The others are of them out at NAS Pensacola.
He was laid to rest here after he suffered a heart attack. This was just two weeks after his 58th birthday and three weeks after he retired from the Air Force.
Saufley Field opened in 1940. It was commissioned in 1943 as a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) and was re-designated as a Naval Air Station (NAS) in 1968. It was decommissioned in 1976 and designated an outlying landing field (NOLF). It was reactivated in 1979 as Naval Education and Training Program Development Center (NETPDC) and an outlying field for NAS Whiting Field pilot training. NAS Whiting Field is located in Santa Rosa County, the county next to Escambia County. In 1996, Saufley Field became Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center, a major shore command. In 1988, Federal Prison Camp Pensacola was established at Saufley Field by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to provide minimum security inmate manpower to various components of the Pensacola Naval Complex. The agreement between the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Navy is similar to existing ones with the U.S. Air Force in the establishment of minimum security Federal Prison Camps at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Saufley Field's prison camp has a fluctuating population, but can house up to 600 inmates, with over half always dedicated to provide manpower to the Navy. In September 2004, the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated Saufley Field as a temporary Logistical Staging Area (LSA) for Federal, State and non-governmental agencies in response to Hurricane Ivan. Hurricane Ivan set National Weather Records with hurricane force winds lasting 18 HOURS! It is considered one of the worst storms ever to hit the United States.
LTJG James V. Rockwell
Curtiss Model E Hydroplane AH-8
LTJG Richard C. Saufley
The U.S. Navy leased what was then known as "Felton's Farm Field" for use as a Naval Auxiliary Aviation Field (NAAF) of NAS Pensacola from 1933. The Navy purchased the site on August 16, 1939. The base opened for operations on August 26, 1940 and is named after Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG) Richard Caswell Saufley, USN, Naval Aviator No.14. He died on June 9th in 1916 in a crash of a Curtiss Model E Hydroplane AH-8 that occurred off of Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola Beach) after taking off from NAS Pensacola. This was during an attempted long-endurance flight. He was concentrating on "hydro-aeroplane" (seaplane) development, he set altitude and endurance records and was attempting to better his own record when he died in the crash. The co-pilot on board was Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG) James V. Rockwell. The Curtiss Model E hydroplane AH-8, went down at the 8-hour-51-minute mark of the flight.
The Curtiss JN - 4 "Jenny"
USS Massachusetts BB-2
The U.S.S. Massachusetts is one of the Nation’s oldest battleships. Commissioned in 1896, the Massachusetts was of the “Indiana” class of warships and the first ships constructed for the new “Steel” Navy. These heavily-armored, heavy caliber battleships were transitional models obsolete 20 years later. In the Spanish-American War, it fired on the Spanish warship Cristobal Colon and helping to sink the cruiser Reina Mercedes. In 1921, the vessel was sunk in a training exercise by guns at Fort Pickens. Since it was still partially visible from the surface, Navy pilots used the Massachusetts for target practice during World War II. The Massachusetts is 350 feet long and 70 feet wide at the amidships and two of the battleship’s 13-inch cannon rise out of the water. Even though the hull was stripped for scrap metal during the 1940's, the wreck is in relatively good condition for being submerged for 80 years and has reached a state of equilibrium with the environment. In fact, the Massachusetts was completely undamaged by the violent hurricanes of the summer of 1995.
The wreck of the USS Massachusetts BB-2 is located 1.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Pensacola Pass. It lies in 26-30 ft. of water within the Fort Pickens State Aquatic Preserve, administered by the Florida Department of Natural Resources. There are special diving instructions at this wreck site regarding anchoring and diving equipment and a prohibition against penetrating the hull. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.
USS Langley CV-1, AV-3
USS Langley (CV-1/AV-3) was the United States Navy's first aircraft carrier, converted in 1920 from the collier USS Jupiter (AC-3), and also the U.S. Navy's first electrically propelled ship. Conversion of another collier was planned but canceled when the Washington Naval Treaty required the cancellation of the partially built battlecruisers Lexington and Saratoga, freeing up their hulls for conversion to the aircraft carriers CV-2 and CV-3. Langley was named after Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American aviation pioneer. As you can see, the U.S.S. Lexington was the second air craft carrier built with the U.S.S. Saratoga being the third.
"Mighty O" 1974
1958, at Pearl Harbor
Brenda Robinson was only in her early 20s when she
became the first African-American female to receive her gold wings as a naval aviator and, yes, did so in
Aviation Officer Candidate School at NAS Pensacola.
Kara Spears Hultgreen was a lieutenant and Naval Aviator in the United States Navy and the first female carrier-based fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy. Lt. Hultgreen received her gold wings here at NAS Pensacola, like every Naval, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviator. She died just months after she was certified for combat, when she crashed her F-14 Tomcat into the sea on final approach to USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on October 25, 1994.
Rosamond Johnson Jr., a fallen hero and the first Korean War casualty of Escambia County. Private Johnson was 17-years-old and under enemy fire, pulled two comrades to safety. He was killed while trying to rescue a third. The beach on Perdido Key was named after him — Johnson Beach on Perdido Key. The beach is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.
The National Museum of Naval Aviation
On board the Naval Air Station Pensacola (in West Pensacola)
The best place in America to explore the illustrious history is the National Naval Aviation Museum. As mentioned on the Home page, it has rightfully been called the
"Cradle of Naval Aviation." The city's role in the development of the U.S. Navy's air power and the training of thousands of Naval & Marine Corps pilots and other personnel is undisputed. The presence of the museum in Pensacola is a powerful tribute to the city's century-long support for Naval Aviation.
The museum opened it's doors in 1962 and has grown IMMENSELY since then! The museum houses an amazing collection of historic aircraft and other artifacts that tell the history of Naval Aviation from its earliest days to the 21st Century. The museum has grown dramatically over the years and ranks as one of the finest military museums in the world. Even the Smithsonian Museum of Aviation tips their hat to this museum!!! The massive facility is open daily from 9 - 5 pm. There is NO admission cost... it is FREE! There are both guided and self-guided tours. They are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Day.
For a real taste of flying, visitors can climb into MaxFlight 360 flight simulators that are capable of realistic air-to-air combat and stunt flying simulations.
They also have an impressive IMAX theater that offers the largest IMAX screen in Florida and one of the largest in the world.
Other exhibits include displays on the Navy's famed precision flying team, the Blue Angels. Based in Pensacola, the planes of the Blue Angels can often be seen in the skies overhead as they carry out training missions. During their season you can watch them practice their maneuvers FOR FREE on Tuesday's (at at times on Wednesday's) in the seating area behind the museum. When the Blue Angels are done on their Wednesday practice you get a chance to meet and greet the pilots in the museum's atrium. Anyone roaming the museum can climb into the cockpits of several of the Naval aircraft and see instrument panels FIRST HAND. It is a great time to get a photo of yourself (or whomever) while sitting in the cockpit(s). Here, you get a chance to take a look at what they have there for EVERYONE to see, experience and learn from.
By the way... PLAN AN ALL DAY EXCURSION (maybe two). THERE IS A LOT TO SEE AND DO!
The following are JUST A FEW of the things to SEE & DO.
There is, quite literally, tons of "stuff" to do!!! There's more than just one area to venture into. The IMAX, the CUBI Bar Café, Hanger 1, Hanger 2 and the Tarmac.
1921, being sunk 1.5 miles out of the Pensacola Pass
A Modern Day Dive Reef
1923, USS Langley CV- 1 at Naval Air Station Pensacola
1857-1859 the first USS Pensacola (and the USS Seminole) were constructed at the Pensacola Navy Yard.
"Mighty O" 1967 in Vietnam
The BLUE GHOST in Corpus Cristi, Texas... NOW
Corry Station, formerly Corry Field
The air field began in 1922.
This is where Interstate 110 and Davis Highway are now!
IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY DONE SO, GO TO ANY OF THE OTHER PAGES BELOW TO SEE MORE OF PENSACOLA'S THEN & NOW.
John Pritchard, President of the Pensacola Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, is a Vietnam veteran who was a part of a dream to build the Wall South. "There were tremendous fund-raising efforts," Pritchard stated. "The veterans ran for The Wall with 5k, 10k walks and runs, played ball for The Wall with softball tournaments, sold t-shirts, did bike runs. There was just a tremendous dedicated effort to make sure that this park was established to honor those who did not return from the war." Pritchard and his brother were both young men when they served in Vietnam, and both were wounded twice, receiving two bronze stars each. "Vietnam," Pritchard laughs, "That's where we always said we spent our high school trip." Pritchard walks to The Wall and touches a name. "This is Kenneth Hatcher," Pritchard quietly shares, his fingers rubbing the letters. "He and I attended high school together, played football together. He was with Special Forces in Vietnam and was killed in action in Cambodia. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor."
Randy New is the sculptor who created the small statue (below) of the child that faces The Wall South, as if she is looking at the names. "My father was killed in Vietnam a few days before my sixth birthday," New says. He motions to the park. "My father's spirit is here. I wanted to do something, so I created this sculpture of a small child to represent all of those who had lost their fathers in Vietnam. I used my daughter for the model." The statue is the likeness of a small girl, wearing a military helmet and clutching a small doll. He motioned to the statue and then to The Wall. "Because that's my daughter, and that's my father - this place is sacred to me."
WORLD WAR I
Lt. Commander William M. Corry
on a seaplane NAS Pensacola, 1915
Note the absence of an instructor's seat.
LCDR William M. Corry
on a seaplane at NAS Pensacola, 1915
Langley being converted from a collier to an aircraft carrier
at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in 1921.
Re: the LSD- 38, an Anchorage-class dock landing ship of the United States Navy. She was the fourth Navy ship to be named for the naval town of Pensacola, Florida (Navy Ship Yard, then becoming NAS Pensacola). She was built in Quincy, Massachusetts and commissioned in 1971. Ironically, She was built in the same location that built the U.S.S. Lexington. In early 1995, the Commanding Officer of USS Pensacola was relieved because the preceding November, the ship had run aground off the East Coast. In 1995, while cruising in the Mediterranean, the ship suffered a major fuel leak, causing the ship to go to General Quarters. The fuel leak was repaired, and no one was injured. In 1996, USS Pensacola ran aground once again while en route to Newport, Rhode Island. Pensacola was finally decommissioned in 1999, mainly due to the damages caused to the ship.
In 1946 Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation began a relationship with the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. The team has flown, and still flies, the best fighters in the US Navy’s inventory. The Blue Angels are officially known as the US Naval Flight Demonstration Team, the team was created shortly after World War II when Chief Naval Officer (CNO) Admiral Chester W. Nimitz ordered the formation of a flight exhibition team that would showcase naval aviation. The unnamed team was formed on April 24, 1946 and performed its first flight demonstration at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida’s Craig Field, on June 15th of the same year. Making NAS Jacksonville their Team Headquarters. Although the name Blue Lancers had been assigned in early July 1946, it was never accepted. It was shunned and rejected very shortly after it was assigned, Lieutenant "Wick" Wickendoll was the Blue Angel pilot that came up with the title. Lieutenant Commander (Lt. Cmdr.) Roy “Butch” Voris announced the team would be known as the Blue Angels. The Blue Angel name actually came from a lounge located in Manhattan during that same time frame that was titled with that same name and was an intimate East Side cabaret that catered to the well-heeled sophisticates. The colors of the lounge was dark "navy" blue and brass (yellow). The name didn't receive much dislike, if any at all. Obviously the title of Blue Angels remains to this very second, even by its name alone, very well loved and respected. A team leader was selected, the first team leader was Lt. Cmdr. Roy “Butch” Voris. He was a World War II instructor and ace pilot (with eight air victories). The team was equipped with three Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats. The pilots trained twice a day and after less than a month they were ready for their first flight show - on May 10, while the first public demonstration was on June 15, 1946, at Graig Field, Jacksonville. This first demonstration lasted just 12 minutes, but made a great impression to the public. At that time only three of the planes participated at the demonstration, while the fourth held in reserve. The pilots were: Lt. Cmdr. Roy "Butch" Voris as leader, Lt. Mel Cassidy as left wing, Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll as right wing and Lt. Ross Robinson as spare. When the team upgraded to the F8F-1 Bearcat the team added Lt. Alfred "Al" Taddeo as solo and Lt. Gale Stouse flying SNJ and spare.
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ THE FOLLOWING
Robert Rasmussen, a Navy pilot who served in the Vietnam War, also feels a strong connection to the names on The Wall. "My very best friend and brother-in-law are on there," he explains. Rasmussen served as the sculptor for the five military statues that flank the WWII Memorial. The statues, modeled after veterans from each branch of the Armed Forces, bring out strong emotions in those who see them. "I’ve been down here for many occasions when people have been able to come up to these figures and relate to them. It’s a very satisfying feeling," he says. "This is a great tribute to the people who have served in the military here from Pensacola and throughout the country, really. I think it’s especially important that we continue to recognize these people because they have done something that is very difficult to describe and means more to this country than I think most people could ever imagine."
Rasmussen also sculpted two of the military figures at the Korean War Memorial, representing soldiers who served during that conflict. The third statue at this memorial, sculpted by Randy New, is of a soldier and a child. Tex Adkinson, a Navy pilot during the Korean War, shares that the addition of the Korean War Memorial, dedicated in 2007, means a great deal to him personally. "Someone remembers," Adkinson says, standing beside the bronze statue of the humanitarian figure – an American soldier carrying a small Korean child. "This is a place to remember a very tough war - much tougher than most people realize."
Although none of the soldiers who served during the first World War are still living, their descendants proudly remember their sacrifices. Joe Denmon, a Vietnam veteran from a long-time Pensacola family, stands beside the white marble WWI Memorial in the park, holding a photograph of his grandfather, Alphonse J. Barrios, a soldier in the 15th Field Artillery Division of the Army in 1914. "My grandfather was a wonderful man, a wonderful man," Denmon says proudly. "He served our nation in WWI, my father served in WWII and I served in Vietnam." Denmon looks out over the park and smiles. "This memorial to me, just stands proud for my city, my community, my country. It stands for those who cut the path before us so we can live free. Freedom isn't free!"
For the last bit of military history, take a closer look at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Admiral Mason Park. Just a small bit of what this used to be was touched on in the Pensacola Sports History page. The monuments here honor and respect the persons who fought to save and keep the liberty we as American Citizens have today and what they still represent .
The Memorial Park is in a very good part of downtown Pensacola and is WELL WORTH GOING TO SEE.
Corry Station NTTC, 2000
Corry Field 1946
Now, don't forget! When visiting the museum you (your family or friends) may get a bit hungry or maybe a little "thirsty". You can stop into the Cubi Bar Café for lunch or just a "refreshment". You can enjoy some relaxing and still see the history. It opened in 1996, the Cubi Bar Café is not only a restaurant, but a popular Museum exhibit! The Café’s decor and layout duplicates the bar area of the famous Cubi Point Officers’ Club that was a major source of enjoyment for Navy and Marine Corps squadrons, ships and units as they passed into the Western Pacific.
For nearly 40 years, the NAS Cubi Point Officers’ Club, in the Republic of the Philippines, was a marvelous mix of American efficiency and Filipino hospitality. The club was especially famous for its Plaque Bar, where transiting squadrons retired old plaques and commissioned new ones to commemorate each WestPac tour. The tradition of placing plaques in the O’ Club bar was started during the Vietnam Conflict and endured until the closing of the base in 1992. When the original officers’ club was closed in 1992, the thousands of plaques that adorned the walls of the club as tokens of thanks were packed up and sent to the Museum to be placed as they were when the Cubi Club was closed. The legacy of this Cubi Bar brings back many memories to aviators whose squadron plaques decorate the walls.
The Cubi Bar Café is open daily and serves soups, salads, deli sandwiches and dessert. Their breads are baked fresh daily. Most menu items bear names that are a tribute to aviation, such as the Aviator Sandwich and the Chicken Pita Pilot. There are a few more. Go ahead and stop by... even if you aren't interested in having a bite to eat or a drink.
Barbara Ann Allen Rainey was the first female pilot in the U. S. armed forces. She received her gold wings aboard NAS Pensacola as the first female to be designated a naval aviator in February of 1974 and also became the first Navy woman to qualify as a jet pilot. She attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. She was killed in an aircraft crash in 1982 while performing her duties as a flight instructor at the Air Training Wing at NAS Whiting Field. The training of aviators still goes on there for the Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard and there have been a few training fatalities of instructors and pilots in training for both fixed wing and rotary wing (planes & helicopters).
AMERICAN REVOLUTION MONUMENT
Saufley Field 1968
Corry Field became Corry Station NTTC, 1960
T-28 B Trojan, Corry Field 1955
The original Corry Field, 1922
The museum even has deep history when it comes to the Space Program... NASA.
In The MILITARY in PENSACOLA 1, I shared with you a deep history of astronauts that made their start or a portion of their training time on board NAS Pensacola.
Here is a little look at what visitors can see up close while being on board visiting the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
This is proof positive that this museum goes WAY beyond that of Pensacola's and the Navy's history in aviation.
Captain Katie Higgins is flying into history! She took to the skies as the first female pilot in the 69 year history of the Blue Angels at the MCAS Beaufort Air Show in Beaufort, South Carolina (the home of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island) flying the C-130 T-Hercules. And, flying it very well!
And yes, she received her wings here in Pensacola!
In the early days of aircraft carrier flying, the navy didn't have enough carriers to use one for training and practice so mock carrier decks were built onto ships that sailed the great lakes. Pilots became carrier qualified on Lake Michigan. Sure enough, there were mishaps and some planes ended up at the bottom of the lake. Yes, some are their for you to check out.
U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, 8th and I
WORLD WAR II
Saufley Field 1956
Saufley Field during World War II, 1943
Corry Station 2007
There is too much to share and/or describe at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
As I stated, plan an ALL DAY visit. But to see the vast amount of history, you'll need two days! IT'S WORTH THE TIME !!!
CHECK OUT THE PAGE TABS BELOW TO
This memorial in the Veterans Park honors all those from Florida who served in World War II. The circle is ringed with bronze memorials with the names of all of the major battles/campaigns of the war. The photo above shows the battles with Japan and the one to the right is from the battles in Europe. Individual names of those who gave their lives from northern Florida are inscribed with each battle. In the center of the circle is a large “Victory Platform”, which has a Roman numeral 2 and a large V for Victory (not the Roman numeral 5) sitting on a polished black granite base. The black granite sits atop a tan octogon granite base. On the platform around the large V are four statues honoring all four branches of service. Next to the Victory platform is a woman in uniform honoring all women who served in the war especially in the medical services.
Below is the monument for the Pacific Fleet Submarines from 1943 through 1945. Submarines assigned were to patrol close inshore during aerial bombardment of enemy held islands and to perform rescue duties for any aircraft shot down while in the target area. Starting in 1943, with the Gilbert Islands campaign and concluding at the cessation of hostilities in 1945. The recorded success shows that 503 Aviators and crew were rescued and the 504th being none other than former President George W. Bush. He received his Naval Wings right here, NAS Pensacola.
2007 - Navy Sailors, Army Soldiers, Air Force Airmen, United States Marines, United States Coast Guardsmen assigned to the Center for Information Dominance (CID) Corry Station participated in the command's annual Battle of Midway Commemoration Ceremony.
Nine veterans of the Battle of Midway joined the CID staff members, students and guests to celebrate the decisive victory at Midway that happened June 4 - 7, 1942.
The Blue Angels Flight Performance Squadron did a fly over in honor, respect and remembrance for America's loss of the carrier USS Yorktown (CV 5), destroyer USS Hammann (DD 412), 145 planes, and 307 brave men.
Corry Field 1934
These are two separate Apollo space capsules.
The one on the left was an Apollo training capsule. The one to the right was an actually used Apollo capsule.
Below is the Apollo space capsule when it was first put on display, just after it's service. And, the interior of it.
HAWKSHAW LAGOON's Missing Children Memorial
This Memorial is on the south side of Bayfront Pkwy. at Admiral Mason Park (Veteran's War Memorial Park).
The Memorial was developed in 2002 through a 501 (c)(3) not-for profit organization (Hawkshaw Lagoon Missing Children, Inc.). Incooperation with local governments, area businesses, civic organizations,and individuals, the Memorial was designed and designated to serve as the National Memorial to Missing Children.
The inspiration for this powerful memorial, which blends poignant sculpture with its natural setting, is Kathy Gaut-Price - the mother of a missing daughter, Joanna. Kathy and her path of healing provided much inspiration toward the successful completion of this project. Through the support of many community minded individuals such as Clark Thompson, Scott Holland, and Regina Baniakas, the group was able to secure the acclaimed sculptor Sam Nettles for this inspirational and peaceful monument.
Sam Nettles' sculpture, "The Sanctuary," located on a foot bridge spanning the lagoon. It is located on the south side of the Veteran's Memorial Park, across Bayfront Parkway. Mr. Nettles is from Pensacola. The awesome thing about this is that this was a nationwide contest that was held in Denver, Colorado to see who would be honored to be chosen for the sculpture. Our local won... obviously. Here is the background of his sculpture. Mr. Nettles made this sculpture for he and his wife's FIRST child. But their child is a girl, not a baby boy. Most people see or assume that the baby is a little boy. Well, (again in the words of Paul Harvey) "Now you know the rest of the story."