Sunday, March 29, 2009

San Diego Trip, first stop: USS Midway museum.

WARNING: the following is the account of an extreme military history geek visiting a FREAKIN AIRCRAFT CARRIER! Yup some serious geeking out is going to happen during this post.

So the first stop of our trip was the USS Midway museum. Turns out the Midway is docked less than a mile away from where we picked up our rental car. The only downside was the timing: our flight landed at 2:37, we picked up our rental car at 3:30 and the USS Midway museum closes at 5pm. So by the time we got to the Midway we had just over an hour to tour and as you can imagine there is ALOT to see on/in an aircraft carrier.

Of course the first thing that hits you when you see a carrier is the size. I know the dimensions of the Midway as well as any of the tour guides: 972ft long 75,000 tons, yet the first sight of the old girl still awed me.

The first stop on your tour of the Midway is the hanger, welcome to the first of many reminders of just how big an aircraft carrier is. You enter the hanger at the forward end and from that point you cannot see the other end of the hanger. First time I've ever been in a room that I could not see the other end of.

In the flight hanger are a few aircraft displays. For me the highlight was getting to see a WWII Dauntless divebomber. America won the war against Japan at the Battle of Midway and the Dauntless is the weapon that won the battle. Pilots flying the Dauntless sank 3 Japanese aircraft carriers in 5 minutes. In 5 minutes America went from losing the war to winning it.

After we mopped up the drool puddle I left in front of the Dauntless we made our way topside to the flight deck. Time for another reminder of how big a carrier is. I have to admit the thought kept going through my head: "This things weighs 75,000 tons and can float and I can't" sad. I tried to take a picture that conveys just how big the flight deck is, can't be done. This is the best I could do.

On the flight deck they have several aircraft on display, here's one anyone who's seen 80s movies should recognize.

Another cool sight from the flightdeck was across the harbor. USS Nimitz was in dock the day we toured Midway. 92,000 tons of nuclear powered awesomeness.

At this point, we only had 30 minutes left before the museum closed, we needed to pick our last stop wisely. We decided to take a tour of the bridge and the other stations in the superstructure. Wise choice. Couple of pics of note:

Yup, dream of 8 year old Steve fulfilled. Now how do I get this thing within bombing range of Beijing?
This wonderful piece of 80's technology is one of the first GPS machines the Navy bought. Navy installed this on the Midway in 1983. Seeing this brought back memories of my parents Apple IIe. GPS in 1983? Any guesses what the Navy paid for THAT?

After we toured the bridge our time was basically up. I wanted to see one of the steam turbines that drive Midway. After a quick dash below decks we saw one of the steam turbines that powers the Midway and we left with about 30 seconds to spare.

We took alot more pictures than whats uploaded to this blog. If you want to see all our pictures you can view them at this site: USS Midway Pics

We took over 1600 pictures on our trip, we'll post a few to our blog and then have a link to my Skydrive where you will be able to see the rest.

This picture is an appropriate way to close: first off its a cool statue that leaves a little lump in your throat, second off its a pretty good representation of how Nicolle and I were the whole trip. Glad I have a wife who puts up with her dork husband on trips like this.

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