Most tourists who visit Florida make sure they do one thing: Go to the beach. Florida is known for its beautiful, white-sand beaches.
I had every intention in the world of our family spending time basking in the sun and frolicking in the Gulf of Mexico. There were only two tiny problems: First, we’re not beach people. If we yearn to swim in the Gulf, we can drive an hour or so to Galveston (although the beaches aren’t pretty at all). We never do. Second, by day three in Florida, we were totally heat-weary. The last thing any of us wanted to do was be out in the sun.
Time for plan B: The National Museum of Naval Aviation.
My neighbor Angie P. had left a comment on the blog that we really should see the museum if we wanted to do something cool. And she was absolutely right! The museum, located at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, had two important attributes: First, it’s free (except for the IMAX and simulator ride). Second, it’s cool, man, cool! Perhaps the greatest air-conditioning in the world!
The museum, which is like a very small Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, is a cornucopia of model planes and aircraft carriers, paintings, plaques, movies, and more. It’s a great interactive place to learn about naval aviation history up close and personal. We had a terrific time!
Photographically, the museum presented a challenge, because parts are so much darker than others. Eschewing flash, I constantly was fiddling with my ISO to let in enough light so I could use a faster shutter speed (the better to not blur). I used the Nikon 17-55mm lens with my Nikon D300, because there were so many wide-angle photo ops; for a change, the 105mm didn’t leave my bag at all.
NAS Pensacola is the home of the world-renown Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team. We heard the planes zooming overhead when we walked toward the museum from the parking lot. They sounded loud and fast. They gave a new-feel contrast to the old planes and memorabilia in the museum.
The museum didn’t just feature the usual aeronautics, like planes and helicopters. Space travel also had its own wing.
A statue called the Spirit of Naval Aviation is at the museum entrance. Featuring five aviators, it truly captures the feel of the museum and the U.S. Navy.
When all was said and done (and much more was done than said), visiting the museum was my favorite part of our Pensacola vacation, which ends today. We’re driving back to south Texas . . . from heat and humidity to heat and humidity. Suffice it to say, the rest of the summer will be spent in search of anything that’s cool, man, cool!