Growing up, Elizabeth and her family had a tradition of celebrating Easter with the Johnson family; the Johnsons are a Navy family and became friends with the Kipps during the Vietnam years. In fact, one of our visits, back in Broomfield, Colorado, was with Cori, one of the Johnson daughters. During their Easter celebrations, lamb was always the entrée, and hot-cross buns & éclairs were on the menu. Well, we pulled into Tallahassee this evening and Sas Johnson greeted us wonderfully – the smell of lamb filled the house and éclairs were prepared for dessert. This was a wonderful surprise, a delicious meal, and great fellowship.
But this is the end of a day that started in Pensacola. While the children stayed at the RV Park and studied (or so we think), Elizabeth and I ventured in for day two of the Naval Aviation Museum. We focused a bit more on the WWII carrier training that took place off of the “coast of Chicago”. Yesterday’s blog made mention of the aircraft that were fished out of Lake Michigan which are now exhibits at the museum. Today we watched a video which explained that 2 passenger liners were purchased by the DOD and flight decks were constructed on top of them to simulate a carrier. Then we watched footage of planes crashing into the carrier and falling into the lake. Not surprising, considering that 17,000 pilots were trained there.
We took a trolley ride around the tarmac. Our docent flew prop planes in Vietnam and really knew the history of all of the aircraft. A lot of planes were designed and built for specific purposes during the second world war, many perfectly functional and a few which frightened the pilots. One, in particular was a double prop plane and the pilots knew that of one engine failed, the other would “take you safely to the scene of the crash”.
There was a scramble in the mid 1940s to develop a plane capable of carrying an atomic bomb, because that was the future of warfare. The Navy developed this plane so quickly, that it had a lot of mechanical issues, including fuel leaks that filled the fuselage. The combination of combustible fuel and atomic bombs scared the pilots.
There were many other exhibits – carriers, blimps, barnstorming, engine designs, trans-Atlantic flights, Ace pilots, lunar modules, etc. They even had a Navy version of the 1940 Plymouth, one year newer than my parents’ Plymouth, but very similar:
Suffice it to say, it’s worth a couple of days when you’re in Pensacola.
A couple hundred miles of travel and we have made it to the state capitol. We can’t wait to see what it has to offer.