We really enjoyed this museum. It is “one of the world’s largest collections of static & flyable aircraft from WWII through the War on Terror.” I certainly gained a lot of respect for the men and women who fought to give us the freedom we enjoy today.
On entering, we met three docents, Richard Lopriore, James Buggelli, and Bob Sylvester. We are from Virginia and now live part time in San Diego. Between them, they had been assigned to the Norfolk Naval Base, and were familiar with Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, so we had plenty to talk about. They told us that three T34 trainer planes would be brought in later that day for a program that coming weekend and it was interesting to see them land and being escorted and parked in the museum.
Jane Barnett was wonderful. We ended up having a private tour of the Pacific WWII hangar with her which was absolutely awesome. Her Dad worked for PanAm as a commercial pilot flying around the various Pacific Islands. He was flying when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But his wife, Jane’s mom, was on the island and was captured,held prisoner for over 3 years. PanAm, and thus her dad, was xxxabsorbedxxx. By the government.
I wasn’t but so familiar with WWII. I didn’t even realize that the Japanese WANTED the US to enter the war as they though they could easily defeat us. That there were fighter planes, bombing planes, and some that did both. That the submarine’s main objective was to rescue downed pilots - President Bush Sr.was one of those rescued. Jane’s knowledge about WWII brought it all to life.
Mike Stone was also awesome. He gave me a tour of B17. We crawled around and squeezed through as needed. Mike had been a mechanic on these planes and he knew all about them -where each man stood and what his duties were. Where each man would hook up his clothes for climate control. We saw the bomb bay,machine guns, and the small ball turret underneath. He even pointed out where each man would hook up to temperature controls since the plane fought with open ‘ windows’ and temperature could drop well below -30 degrees
There are other hangars, such as one with a stealth fighter and a other devoted to Korea/Vietnam. We were there on a Wednesday but, on weekends, you can fly in some of the planes. You can easily stay 2-3 hours but if you get great docents like ours, plan to stay longer.