Saturday, 20 October 2012

USS Midway

Well, I think that the only person who will enjoy this blog is Archie but I may be surprised.  
To get started San Diego is one of the major navy bases of the US.  The majority of its aircraft carriers are stationed here when not on active duty and so when it was time to mothball the USS Midway it was decided to do so here.  However rather than just mothball it the powers that be decided to turn it in to a museum.  

My hotel is in, what is now called, the Gaslamp Quarter however it was originally called the Stingaree area because it was very near the harbour and you could get stung there quicker than swimming with stingrays.  So since I was so near to the harbour I decided I would pay a quick visit to the USS Midway.  How wrong was I? 4.5 hours later wrong.  
It was an amazingly interesting museum.  It’s obviously stocked with all the aircraft of whatever sort ever that ever flew off the Midway’s decks.  As you enter the Hangar deck you are given an audio soundtrack which will guide you round the whole carrier.  
It’s simply a case of keying in the number attached and listening but in addition there are videos from an airman or someone from the carrier telling you about a particular incident associated with the plane / helicopter. Many of the exhibits also have a docent  beside them.  No idea what “docent” means.  It’s not a term associated with museums at home but it is frequently used here.  Anyway, these particular docents were all retired servicemen, who in one capacity or another had served on board the USS Midway.  They were all very happy to answer questions about the aircraft, themselves or anything else.  So between the three methods you are treated to an interactive experience throughout your visit. 

Here is one example.  This little plane( and I can’t remember what type it is) was the last plane to land on the deck of the Midway during the evacuation of  Saigon.  It was flown by a Vietnamese air force pilot, who had circled the Midway several times to drop a letter off.  This pleaded for permission to land.  The Admiral on board finally gave permission in the last minutes of the evacuation so the pilot was only able to make one attempt.  Luckily he was successful.  When he opened his hatch the men on board realised that he also had his wife and small baby sitting alongside him. What they did not realise until a few minutes later was that he had another 4 children crammed into the fuselage. They had been there for several hours.  The docent beside the plane was one of the men who had helped to pull the children out of the plane.  He had 2 children of a similar age himself and could not believe how the pilot’s four had all stayed in the limited space for so long.

Some of the many exhibits.  I have more but there is a limit to the internet upload for a blog.

The Tomcat - the type used in TopGun
 Standing on the air traffic controller’s spot.  The Safety net should a landing go wrong is just below me.(I’m not kidding and it’s for the controller to jump into. I’m about 100 feet above the water here)
 Pilots’ lounge - the chairs used all have a name for each pilot in the corp who is on active duty.  Pilots wait here to be called on deck.

The Flight deck  - takeoff

The bridge, captain’s and admiral’s quarters


  1. I think I prefer the USS Yorktown - the original one.

  2. Well the first is usually the best but it wasn't there.