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Pensacola Bay Area Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Naval AviationJanuary 24, 2011 By: George Dooley
If you have clients who are looking for a different vacation destination, consider the Pensacola Bay Area of Florida. Known for its colorful 450-year history and breathtaking white-sand beaches, the Pensacola Bay Area is also the “Cradle of Naval Aviation,” because all Navy, Marine and Coast Guard aviators start their training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. It’s a great domestic destination for veterans, families and flying fans.
"The Pensacola Bay Area is the jewel of the Emerald Coast and has one of the richest histories of any city in the country,” said retired Adm. Robert Kelly, vice chairman of armed services for the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. "This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of naval aviation, and the centennial is a time to showcase many of our tremendous resources. We are the home of the Blue Angels and one of the finest aviation museums in the world. Thousands come through this area each year to learn how to fly and maintain airplanes at one of our area’s bases. In short, naval aviation is a very important part of this area’s history and potential."
Special events and exhibits will commemorate the centennial celebration:
Throughout 2011: National Naval Aviation Museum Exhibits, IMAX Films and Flight Simulators – Visitors to this widely acclaimed museum can explore more than 350,000 square feet of space displaying more than 150 aircraft. A new 50,000 square foot addition, Hangar Bay One, opened in November 2010. Among the countless things to touch, see and experience are thrilling Top Gun Air Combat flight simulators, motion-based simulators, a variety of special exhibits as well IMAX films on a seven-story giant screen. Admission is free. (850) 453-2389
Feb. 3: Glenn Miller Concert – Participants can enjoy an evening of music at the National Naval Aviation Museum in salute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation. (850) 453-2389
Feb. 19: Discovery Saturday – The public is invited to the National Naval Aviation Museum for a special presentation on the history of NAS Pensacola. (850) 453-2389
March 25: Medal of Honor Ceremony – More than 40 naval aviators who have earned their Medal of Honor will be honored at a special ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum. (850) 453-2389
Throughout May. Military Appreciation Month – Community-wide special events will be sponsored by the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and NAS Pensacola. (850) 438-4081
May 2-8: Aviation Week – A week-long celebration at NAS Pensacola will commemorate a century of naval aviation. (850) 438-4081
May 3-4: Blue Angels Aerial Demonstration – The Navy’s precision flight team will fly 700 mph only 18 inches apart in astonishing formations over Pensacola Bay and the visiting USS Iwo Jima. Pilots are available after Wednesday’s show for autographs in the National Naval Aviation Museum. (850) 452-2583, www.blueangels.navy.mil
May 4-7: USS Iwo Jima Tours – Commissioned in 2001 in Pensacola, the 844-foot long ship is back for a grand tour. The Navy’s third amphibious assault ship was designed and built from the keel up with accommodations for female sailors and is one of the last ships propelled by steam boilers. The ship’s maiden voyage was accompanied by more than 2,000 World War II veterans, many of them survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima. (850) 438-4081
May 4-6: National Naval Aviation Museum Symposium – The museum’s foundation will host a series of special discussions by field experts. (850) 453-2389
May 6: National Flight Academy Christening – Guests are invited to attend a ceremony to bless the multi-million facility which will open in 2012. The world-class academy will teach middle school and high school students the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through hands-on simulators. The National Flight Academy is adjacent to the National Naval Aviation Museum. (850) 453-2389
June 4 (tentative): USS Lawrence Commissioning – NAS Pensacola will host the commissioning of the newest Navy destroyer. The USS William P. Lawrence, or DDG-110, is a 500-foot, guided-missile destroyer that has been in construction in Pascagoula, Miss., since 2008. Commissioning a Navy ship is a tradition that has been in practice since the commissioning of a captured British schooner, the Margaretta, in 1775 and is one of the most significant events in the life of the ship. (850) 438-4081
July 9. Pensacola Beach Air Show - This must-see event features a show by the world-famous Blue Angels over the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. (850) 452-2583, www.blueangels.navy.mil
Aug. 20: Seville Quarter Recognition Event – The public is invited to kick back and have fun inside downtown Pensacola’s biggest entertainment venue which includes eight-themed bars under one roof. One of the rooms, Phineas Phogg’s, is dedicated to aviation with a collection of airplanes and hot air balloons. (850) 434-6211
Nov. 11-12: Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show – With Pensacola as their home base, the Blue Angels perform the season’s final show at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Historic war bird demonstration acts as well as static displays will be on site for guests. (850) 452-2583, www.blueangels.navy.mil Visit www.celebrateflight.com