Hopefully you aren’t tired of these museum posts. I have wanted to visit the USS Midway ever since I discovered its existence. It’s been years. And finally being able to go there only deserves multiple posts on this here blog!
I hope that you don’t mind that I love airplanes and want to share them with you. They are cooler than spray paint. That’s how I feel about it.
We take a brief break from the top of the aircraft carrier to see some pilot stuff. Just off the flight deck, there is a short stairway to four Ready Rooms below. These rooms are used for last-minute flight briefing for flight crews rather than having to go three levels below the ship for their normal flight briefing room.
These are closer to the action and, well, ready. They seem to be appropriately-named, huh?
And what room would be ready without a bunch of creepy mannequins? Man, I can never get used to these guys making random appearances throughout the ship.
Were these guys here during your visit, Susan, or is this a recent “enhancement” to the USS Midway?
Sweet! I did take a picture of the seat backs! These gentlemen actually used these seats while at sea on the Midway, and they paid to have them restored for the museum. In honor of such dedication and generosity, they got their names embroidered on the seats for all the world to see.
Pretty stinkin’ cool, says I.
This was an actual ejection seat used in one of the carrier airplanes. I don’t know which one, but I was alone in the room (except my lifeless friends) and took the opportunity to sit in it. I would probably like ejection seats, as long as I wasn’t in them when they were ejecting.
It smelled really old and war-like. It was very neat.
Okie dokie, we’re back on top after viewing the Ready Rooms just off the flight deck. This lovely little number, located right next to the Ready Room stairwell, is the Lockheed S-3 Viking. Because this airplane’s sound was very low-pitched, it got the nickname of “Hoover,” like the vacuum.
You can’t say that you never learn anything on this blog.
This was one of the few Navy airplanes to have its own Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU. This is an on-board miniature jet engine that assists in engine starts and helps to keep the airplane cool before starting up.
Also, this engine was a high-bypass that had great fuel efficiency. This allowed the Viking to be a popular go-to airplane for a variety of missions, including air refueling, reconnaissance, and (originally back in its day in the 1960s) submarine warfare.
I loved this picture of The Island of the ship. We will talk more about this next week!
Welcome to what made it possible for gigantic airplanes to take off in less space than three football fields! This is one of two steam catapults located on the flight deck of the Midway. Steam replaced hydraulic catapults in the 1960s and is much more efficient. They simply used the same steam that powered the ship through the water.
And the airplane demonstrating how to hook up to the steam catapult is the A-7 Corsair II, which came about in 1962 to replace the A-4 Skyhawk.
This was one of the first airplanes ever to have a HUD (Heads-Up Display) which projects digital information such as airspeed, heading, dive angle, etc. onto the windscreen for pilots to see without having to look inside the cockpit during critical phases of flight. It was revolutionary.
Look at that arsenal! I’m glad that the A-7 flew on our team! Isn’t it pretty?
For even more information on the USS Midway, and thus more information that will help you sleep better at night, this is a cool website for the ship’s history. Can you believe that in this short distance, loaded airplanes were able to take flight?!
It was only when I posted this picture of the side of the ship that I noticed their cardboard cutout of a flight deck crew member signaling us in. How cool! Now I know why they wear brightly-colored vests in real life! I didn’t even see this guy!
You can see here the end of the left catapult line, as well as the giant letters on the flight deck designating this Midway as number forty-one. I am sure this was helpful for approaching pilots to confirm on which ship they were about to land!
Ouch! Again, more painful chain link fences to catch the crew members who have to jump away from danger above.
I do like the “Welcome Home” banner on the Midway, welcoming home the crews of the still-active Navy carriers on just the other side of the San Diego Bay. Pretty cool.
In case you’re wondering how far you’ll have to go to make a visit to the Midway yourself, there is downtown San Diego! And downtown is a whole three miles from the international airport.
Please come visit this ship. It is awe-inspiring!
Well, what have we here? Do they let sharks on ships?! Crap. I guess they don’t know my personal sentiments on giant sharks.
As I carefully got closer, I realized that it wasn’t an shark at all, but a F-8 Crusader made by Vought.
This guy was developed in 1955 and was the last jet fighter to be equipped with guns. Later in his long lifespan, the Crusader was key in photographing points of interest during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This thing can climb at 25,000 feet-per-minute.
And to think that it felt like a rocket in Gladys last week when she was doing 5,200 FPM!
This odd-looking fellow is the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye. You would think he couldn’t fly with that gigantic radar dome coming off his back, but this airplane has played a critical role in wars from the mid-sixties to present-day.
They are still building this airplane for use in the military, with the latest model being released in just 2007. That simply amazes me that an airplane can stand the test of time so well and still be so useful. The Hawkeye is only one of two propeller-driven airplanes that still operates from aircraft carriers today.
The Hawkeye’s purpose in life was to provide early warning of incoming enemy targets. That giant radar dome on board houses lots of electrical equipment that helps the ships to know when they could potentially be attacked.
We could find out a lot sooner with the Hawkeye in the air gathering data than waiting for the carrier’s resources to pick up hints of danger.
This beast in the middle of the flight deck is another F-4 Phantom, which is one of my favorite airplanes.
To show off their new fighter, the Navy held several record-setting flights in production airplanes in the early 1960s. Speed and altitude (up to 98,000 feet!) records were crashed in the Phantom, and the speed records held for fifteen years until broken in 1975 by the F-15.
The engineers had to do a last-minute design change to the wing to give it better flight characteristics in slow flight. And, because of its massive size, the Phantom wasn’t the best option in a dogfight. But it became the blueprint for many jets to follow.
I have never seen an A-5 Vigilante in person, so this was an incredible experience for me. This airplane was originally designed to be a supersonic bomber, but it quickly became the Navy’s best tool for tactical strike reconnaissance during the Vietnam War.
They really went to town on this airplane…the contract was awarded in 1956, and less than two years later, the first Vigilante had a test flight. During its introduction to the Navy, the A-5 was one of the largest and certainly the most complex airplane flying from carriers. It didn’t even have ailerons but used spoilerons to control roll.
Though it was very fast and agile for its size, it required a very high speed and angle of attack when returning to the carrier to land. This made landing on a tiny, moving runway quite a challenge, and the best-of-the-best were thus offered the flying positions on the Vigilante.
It was also a leader in technology at the time, being one of the first airplanes ever to have fly-by-wire controls with mechanical backups. Look at that engine intake!
Seeing all of these airplanes in person was a treat! Next Monday, we’ll get to see The Island of the ship, which is the huge structure that rises above the flight deck.
I know. I can’t wait either.