Marine Corps Aviation Museum

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Flying Leatherneck Aviation MuseumConsidering today is the 96th anniversary of Marines Corps Aviation, I figured it would be the appropriate time to encourage you to visit the Marines Corps’ Aviation Museum.

Have you been awed by the progress of military aviation over the years? Are you a fan of movies like The Flying Leathernecks, starring John Wayne? Or, have you heard stories from family members who fought in WWII or watched documentaries on TV about the success of the F4U Corsairs?

There is one museum in the country dedicated to the nearly 100 year history of Marine Corps aviation and lucky enough for us, its based right here in San Diego.

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum and Historical Foundation is housed in a temporary facility at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar. (Leatherneck is a term used for Marines because their uniforms include a high collar, which used to be made out of leather to protect them in hand-to-hand combat.) The Foundation’s goal is to build a permanent $45 million museum facility to open on the 100th anniversary of Marine Corps Aviation, which is on May 22, 2012. The plans for the new building must still be approved (I believe by the Secretary of the Navy) before private funding can be raised for construction.

Thirty, of the nearly 50, planes and helicopters are on display at any one time, including the F4U Corsair, F-4 Phantom, the current F/A-18 Hornet, and even the enemy’s MiG-15. Check out the current list of Marine Corps planes and helicopters on exhibit. The web site and exhibit plaques provide in-depth detail on each aircraft and its particular history. If you would like to see the inside of a cockpit, their open cockpit days are on the 2nd and 4th weekends of June, July, and August. Note that the temporary facility requires the aircraft to be outdoors. So, avoid visiting during inclement weather.

Indoors, you will find even more on Marine Corps Aviation history with a collection of memorabilia and videos describing various aspects of Marine Corps history from 1912 – WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and current Marine Corps aircraft. There is also a one-of-a-kind display on the history of women in the Marines.

You can do the full tour in about an hour. You can also go online to see virtual tours of various Leatherneck Museum collections. There is a museum gift shop for those who like military collectibles, books, videos, and posters.

Over 25,000 visitors a year, from throughout the world, visit the museum. During my recent visit, there were tourists from Toronto. You will see a few maps of the globe near the museum entrance where guests have placed pins on their hometowns. Surprisingly to me, the pins cover the entire continent of Europe and most of East Asia, in addition to the pin filled U.S. map. So, go visit the museum today and see what’s attracting so many people.

Directions: The museum is easily accessible to the public on Miramar Road, just west of the intersection with Camino Ruiz and about 1.5 miles from the I-15. There is no need to enter the military base since the museum has its own separate entrance on Miramar Road. You will see a large Flying Leatherneck Museum sign hanging on the fence next to an open gate. After you pull through the gate, you will see to the right plenty of parking and the temporary facility. I can not get an exact Google Map address location for those who want to map out their directions. Instead, you can use the map address for Peterbuilt Trucks across the street from the museum.

Hours: 9AM – 3:30 PM Tuesday – Sundays.

Fee: None, but there is a donation box.

Phone: 1-877-359-8762

Food: There is no food allowed on the premises, but there are several delis, cafes, and restaurants along Miramar Road, in both directions.

Read more about United States Marine Corps Aviation from Wikipedia

Visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, VA (They only have four aircraft on display.)

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