I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July! We definitely did. We road tripped our way down to Florida for a four day weekend of airplanes, sunshine and ocean! It was wonderful.
I have a ton of pictures of airplanes from the trip. The museum had a lot of unique aircraft that had a story behind it.
The picture below is the NC-4, the first flying boat to fly across the Atlantic in 19 days in 1919 (ironic?).
This Cessna O-1 Bird Dog was particularly interesting because it was the plane that a South Vietnamese Air Force major, his wife and five kids flew to the aircraft carrier Midway. This was during the evacuation of the US military in Saigon in 1975. He dropped a note to the Midway crew asking for permission to land, saying “Please help us.” They had a photocopy of the actual note, which was really neat to see. Midway permitted them to land. The major had never even seen a carrier, let alone land on one. But the crew took care of the family and helped them get settled in America. The Cessna was never flown again. It’s a pretty cool story, I’d heard it before, but it was really neat to see the actual plane.
Of course, what is the Naval Aviation Museum without the Blue Angels? They had a few F/A-18s out on display which is what the Blue Angels fly now. From 1974-1986, they flew the subsonic A-4 Skyhawk. McDonnell Douglas sponsored a really neat display of the A-4 in the museum.
If you have recently seen the Blue Angels perform, you’ve seen them flying a much cooler airplane. The F/A-18 is a much more maneuverable aircraft that lets them put on a wickedly awesome show. The Blue Angels usually practice right by the museum, but since it was a holiday weekend, they weren’t there. I so wished I lived there, I could definitely get used to that!
The Blue Angels have a C-130 they call Fat Albert that does JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) demonstrations. The museum actually had the original Fat Albert the Blue Angels flew in 1975. Although, I heard they quit doing JATO demos last year, but I’m not sure…I hope they still do them. Anyway, here is Fat Albert.
Ok, if you know me at all, you know my favorite movie is Top Gun. Not just because young Tom Cruise looks like a stud in aviators and a flight suit, but also because of the airplanes. So when I saw that they had an F-14 cockpit opened up, I had to see if I could find Goose or Maverick. Unfortunately, they weren’t there. They also had a really cool F-14 display outside the museum.
Ok, alright, I’m sorry. I’ll stop with the airplanes. After spending two days at the museum, we headed down to the beach. We went to Pensacola Beach first. There was some oil on the beach, and it got all over our feet. It wasn’t unbearable and it definitely wasn’t stopping people from being on the beach – it was BUSY! – but I had packed suncreen and not GoJo. It took a lot of soap and water to get all the oil off. We saw a lot of clean up crews working 24/7. We’re pretty sure they were contractors, but I was really hoping they were prisoners…
We ate at our favorite restaurant in Pensacola Beach, Flounders. The band Fly By Radio was playing that night – such an awesome band!! We enjoyed the restaurant’s famous beverage, Diesel Fuel. You can’t have too much of this so we shared one, it is very potent! But you get to keep the jar it comes in and we have one from 2009, so we decided to make it an annual tradition and went back to get one from 2010.
The next day we drove to Destin, FL for a few days. We had a great place to stay right on the beach with a great view. The second picture is the view from our hotel balcony. There was no oil in Destin, so that was really great news, but we still saw a lot of people wearing “SOS: Save Our Shores” shirts.
The drive from P-cola to Destin that would normally take an hour took 3 hours. We were more of less at a dead stop for most of the time. It was frustrating because there were a lot of grumpy vacationers who all wanted to get to their destination as much as anyone else did, so the people weren’t being very nice. That definitely didn’t help. Once we got to our hotel, we found out that there was a hit-and-run accident by a guy who had been throwing beer cans and drugs out the window of his car. He continued to drive and did yet another hit-and-run accident where he flipped his car and by the time it was all said and done, there was one death and the other two passengers in the car he hit were life-flighted out. The drunk driver was uninjured, but they caught him and as the hotel employee put it, “He will be someone’s little girl for a long time.” It is so sad. There are some very sick, sick people out there. It definitely makes you count your blessings and live life to the fullest.
The first night we got together with Alex’s roommate from the academy. We hadn’t seen him in over a year so it was good to catch up. He is currently living down there and is at Eglin AFB. The next day was the 4th. We spent the day on the beach soaking up the sun, eating free and delicious bbq, and watching fireworks! Destin had a really good fireworks show and a local radio station broadcast synchronized music to go with the show. It was made up of just about every American patriotic song you could think of, so it really made you proud to be an American. We had a great time in Destin!
It was really hard to come back to Columbus after such a fun weekend. But, reality calls. Alex will be flying on his cross-country flight in the T-6 to Charleston, SC this weekend so I decided to plan a trip back to Iowa for a few days rather than stay here by myself. I am so excited to see the family and all the kids!! I miss them a lot and I haven’t seen baby Jack since he was born!! It will be so much fun to spend time with them!!
Have a great day and y’all come back now!!