My parents recently took a trip to Pensacola and visited the National Naval Aviation Museum while they were there. My father took some photos and I thought some of my readers might be interested in some what they saw. In addition to the museum, they saw USNS Fall River (JHSV-4) undergoing testing, saw some of the VMFAT-501 F-35Bs still left at Eglin, and got the chance to see the Blue Angels practicing.
USNS Fall River (JHSV-4), was just accepted into Military Sealift Command service in September and is one of the US Navy’s Joint High Speed Vessels. The Joint High Speed Vessels are catamaran hulled transport ships designed to transport a USMC or US Army company with roll on roll off and helicopter capability. At 103ft long and 600 tons, they can move at speeds up to 43 knots and are very interesting looking vessels. My parents reported that went in and out from Pensacola each day they were down there and a news report from Mobile, AL where it was built indicates it is undergoing testing at Pensacola before going to its as yet undecided home port.
The Blue Angels were home in Pensacola practicing during that time; my parents went to one of the practice sessions and also got to see a pair of F-35Bs from VMFAT-501 that are still flying out of Eglin AFB. During the Blue Angels practice sessions, #4 had a mechanical issue and had to land, so some of the photos my father took shows three-ship formations as opposed to the usual four-ship formations.
I am very much looking forward to visiting the National Naval Aviation Museum after hearing my parents tell me about it. They have a lot of good aircraft and all of their restored aircraft but two are inside. A very well turned out F-14B is on a pedestal outside of the museum; also outside the museum is an E-2C+ Hawkeye with the 8-bladed propellers. One of the historically important aircraft they have is the NC-4, a Curtiss seaplane that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. There is also a very nice display of Blue Angels A-4s suspended from the museum’s ceiling. Another aircraft of interest is an X-47B, but I’m wondering if it is a mock-up or a prototype painted to look like NG-501 because NG-501 is still listed as an active aircraft (my parents were told that the museum has no mock-ups).
All in all, their story from the trip and the photos have me ready to make a trip down to Pensacola and I’m hoping to go down in early April. If I do, look for more photos as well as a radio report from the area (I’m excited just thinking about it!)