Sea Oats

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A hidden gem

Airports. Most are pretty generic. Some are terrible. But Ft. Lauderdale International, in addition to being a pretty great airport, has a hidden gem at the end of its runway area. The Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station Museum.
An actual trainer used to help train pilots of the TBM Avenger planes.

In an unassuming building at the edge of the airport is a treasure trove of information, displays, plaques, models and more.

What really makes this museum special is the people. Not your usual docents, but people who not only know their stuff, but who are also some of the nicest people you'll run into in any display like this.

Not like a regular museum which can be cool and a little distant, the people here make you feel like you've stepped into their living room and they just happen to have hundreds of models of planes and ships and they know every detail about them. They share their info like they are talking to a friend, not a visitor.

There is so much to see, you can spend an hour or two without a problem, but you won't feel overwhelmed. Not just cold facts, but personal experiences are related.
Mr. Gary Adams explains some of the items in the vast display to visitors.

I've watched my fair share of programs on TV about World War Two, but there is nothing that brings home the facts as realistically as someone standing front of you and saying "I was there" or "I worked on that aircraft."

No matter what your political views are, you will probably be impressed by the tales of George H.W. Bush's experiences and his bravery. Very heroic. A complete room with info about the future President with photos, clothing and personal memorabilia. And Mr. Bush has visited here and signed many items.

Magazine cover showing George H. W. Bush.
For those of you who are into the mysterious and strange, there is the tale of Flight 19, which was the designation of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945 during a United States Navy over water navigation training flight from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Not a physically huge building, but a truly
impressive display with hundreds of models and a research library that is jam packed with books and other reference documents that the staff will help you look through. If you need to research anything about Naval Air, this is your place. When we were there, there was a gentleman indexing all the materials in the library on a computer. They called him a "volunteer," but I suspect he was being held captive as this is a very difficult job. I'll go back next month to see if he's broken free.

There is no charge for all this, but donations are greatly appreciated. Don't be shy.
For a truly entertaining and informative look at Naval Aviation history, you really owe it to yourself to tour this museum. Truly an insightful and enjoyable look at Naval aviation and history.

Visit their site here: