Friday, July 20, 2012

Midway Museum Love, Part Two

Midway Part 2

Yesterday, we got to see the lower decks of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum ported in the San Diego Bay. Have you been enjoying the tour as much as I did last week when I saw it in person? It’s fun to go through the pictures…I feel like I’m experiencing it for the first time all over again.


I was up on the mid-deck for a walk to another section of the ship that required more stairs down below. We are now on our way to see the living quarters of the fancy-schmany officers of the ship.


But first, a few teaser airplanes. These are on the mid-deck and are oh-so-beautiful. I had to walk past them to get to the officer quarters down below. This is the Douglas SBD Dauntless, which was the choice dive bomber of the Navy from 1940-1943.

And this is the TBM Avenger designed by Grumman (and built by General Motors during the War…who knew?). I love these old radial engines, and I love how they sound, too. Look how those wings fold up so that even more airplanes can fit on the carrier! Actually, most Navy ship airplanes have some sort of transformation to make them smaller while being stored below.

You didn’t know that transformers existed in real life, huh?

Space is everything when you’re dealing with just four acres on the flight deck.


This is a SNJ Trainer, but most people know it as the Texan. This airplane served in every branch of the military and was a little workhorse. I still see them at airports, as they’ve become quite popular to collect and restore. They come in every color now!


Also on the mid-deck, next to these few teaser airplanes, were several full-motion simulators for people to try. In this particular section, people were flying the F-18 Hornet. I think it cost an additional $20 for a spin. I get to fly cool airplanes all the time, so I didn’t bother to stop here longer than to snap a picture.


OK, so now we’re back down below again! But this is an entirely different section of the boat from where we saw the enlisted men living yesterday. And you can see the difference right away in the cafeteria food. This place serves meals around the clock, and they are pretty gourmet. Well, as gourmet as a ship cafeteria can be, I suppose.

Was this where the bacon was stolen by our brig guy?


It pays to be a chaplain! Look at the living quarters for the priests on board the ship. There were three non-denominational chaplains on board to take care of all the religious needs of the men serving on the aircraft carrier.

Minus the creepy mannequins, I really liked how they staged the rooms throughout the museum. They had actual items from the people who served on board. It was neat to see it all displayed like it was still in use.


This is the chapel on the ship where people can pray it up. I really love that they recovered this stain glass window from the original ship and had it restored for the museum. They really did a great job on the whole carrier. It’s worth the visit!


This is the bedroom of one of the XOs, or Executive Officer. These guys help the ship’s captain complete all of the day-to-day operations. They are quite often aviators, too. So I would probably like them.

The first thing I would ask if I moved in is, “Can I stain these cabinets?” Wooo-weee!


This is the dining room near the officers’ living quarters. This is also the room where everyone hangs out when not flying or on-duty. It could be considered a giant living room for all of these officers.

It’s just too bad that they didn’t get real plates to use during meals, huh?


A movie reel is attached to one of the walls in the same dining room. Each evening, a few movies would be shown to keep the Navy men entertained.


With so many people on board the aircraft carrier, there was bound to be lots of laundry piling up. Room after room of laundry equipment was near the men’s quarters. Here we see our creepy friends ironing the pants in one shot. I need one of these machines in my house!


I liked this seal of the Navy hanging on the wall. Anchors away!

You can get anything done on this city-of-the-sea, including a hair cut. Although I doubt that they can get much more creative than a clippers buzz. Maybe they do nails here, too?


So a neat story about this dining room. This is where the CPOs (Chief Petty Officers) eat their meals. Even the Admiral of the entire Navy won’t come inside this area until invited by the lead CPO. I thought that was fascinating.

Everything in here was better…lobster and shrimp instead of mystery meat and fake mashed potatoes. If you have to be at sea, this is the place to be. It was the Ritz-section of the Midway.


Here is their fancy food. Or the plastic versions of their fancy food, anyway.

I loved this American flag. It was actually flown on the Midway way back when. If you count the stars, there are only forty-eight. Which means that this flag existed before we got Hawaii and Alaska in 1959.


I don’t know what possessed me to go down here. You know how I feel about dentist chairs. And hospitals aren’t exactly my favorite places in the world. But I was on the ship and didn’t want to miss out on anything. So away I went.


My audio tour said that the most common surgeries done on board the Midway were stitches to the head for sailors who forgot where the low bulkheads were when they were in a hurry. SMACK!

The real interview with one of the surgeons said that they were always stitching someone up! I really liked that I could listen to additional stories from the people who were actually on the ship.


I don’t know what happened to this guy, but the dummy is playing a sick sailor so well that I forgot he was fake!

Actually, on some of the mannequins, they had hydraulics moving their lungs so it looked like they were breathing. I guess they didn’t want us to think that he had already died? Cracked me up!


And back in the day, it obviously wasn’t necessary to be protected from X-rays shooting through bodies. Other than the safety precautions that were apparently ignored by these two dummies, it was rather impressive that they could do X-rays on board. This ship can do everything!


No, this isn’t the dentist chair. But close.

The Midway prided itself on being able to manufacture any metal part needed at sea. It wasn’t always possible to ship over-night (Ok…it was never possible), so the Midway needed the ability to make anything that could break on the ship.

With the tools in this metal shop, they could do it. And do it well, too, according to the metal workers that I listened to on the audio tour. Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! These guys were really proud of the work that they accomplished.


I won’t even attempt to name this machine. It’s fancy, though, and it helped them get their part-making job done.

Metal press? Dang it, sorry.


This is the prison post office on the ship. Here I heard some stories from the Navy wives who said goodbye to their husbands for countless six-month deployments. Yuck. I’ve been gone two weeks straight from Hubby and can’t wait to see him tomorrow. Six months would probably make my little heart explode.

The post office was an important place because it kept up the morale of the sailors by processing treats from home.


Inside the post office, we find my favorite dummy from the entire ship.

For some reason, this guy is pulling a Tim-Tebow-Prayer moment over this mail. I didn’t realize that letters for the men were this important! I just love it. Even dummies can be funny!


Woohoo! We’re finally done below decks, after seeing the enlisted men’s quarters as well as where the officers lived while at sea. I’m ready to see some blue sky again, so let’s head upstairs.

I passed this pod, which can keep twenty-five sailors alive if the ship goes down. There were several hundred of these pods attached to the outside of the flight deck. It contained water bottles, iodine, a 25-man life raft, life vests, and MREs for two days. If the ship is sunk, these pods automatically opened when touching the water. All you have to do is get to it.

No pressure.


They even had a bucket inside this pod that was used to dish water out of the life raft. The last thing that you want is water sinking your life raft when you’ve just come from a sunken aircraft carrier!


This is the stairway to heaven, my friends. Let’s go look at airplanes up on the flight deck!

Can you believe that you have to wait all weekend for such wonderful eye candy? I don’t mean to be mean…

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