Trae’s late Uncle Ralph retired as a Commander in the Navy. He loved hearing the stories Ralph had to share; particularly the one where he crashed his plane in 1956. Trae had been eagerly awaiting to tour an aircraft carrier to help put Ralph’s experiences into perspective, so we were very happy that our time in San Diego provided us the opportunity!
We arrived late morning to start our tour. It was really crowded and really hot, so I would recommend wearing a small cross body bag, sunscreen, and a hat! The tour starts on the Hangar Deck where all the touristy things are like flight simulators, movies, and a gift shop. This is where you can pick up complimentary audio tour devices, though, so get one of those!
We decided to see the Flight Deck first because we had somewhat of a limited schedule (we had to be at a formal dinner that night). The audio guides came in really handy here because I had no idea what the difference was between any of the planes. There were three different spots along the deck where docents would speak. They would talk about the process of taking off from and landing on the flight deck, with each guide going into specific detail about each.
Speaking of docents, we found all of them on the flight deck to be extremely kind and eager to share their knowledge and answer most likely “dumb” questions. Trae got into a long discussion with a retired pilot. He explained the uses of several different planes and Trae asked him if there were any Demons (the plane that Ralph crashed) that we could see (there weren’t).
After perusing the planes for an hour or so we discovered there were tours of the Captain’s Bridge! There was a line, but fortunately it wasn’t too long of a wait. And it was in the shade! :) Once the tour started, we found ourselves climbing up very narrow ladders. It was much like the USS Missouri tour in Hawaii.
Unfortunately our captain’s bridge tour was cut short because a woman in the group ahead of us passed out. It was so hot that it was seriously hard to breathe in these small spaces! There was no way to get her back down the tight quarters so they had to lift her out, causing the shut down of the captain’s bridge tours for the rest of the day! Craziness.
At this point we were getting pretty tired from being in the sun so much so we decided to look at the last couple of planes on the flight deck and then grab a late lunch.
Here’s the F-14 Tomcat, aka the Top Gun plane! Top Gun was actually filmed in San Diego, but we didn’t have enough time to go see the locations :( This site has some great comparison pictures of the locations though.
We couldn’t leave the museum without sitting in an airplane, so up we went into a T-2 Buckeye (I believe?!).
I think we were at the museum about three hours total and we didn’t even tour the other decks! We really could have been there all day!
More from this San Diego trip:
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