Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Out and About: USS Midway Museum

During a recent visit from my brother, we decided to check out the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum. It's permanently docked in San Diego Bay. I have to admit, it wouldn't have been my first museum of choice, but my brother is really into military history, and I wanted to be a good host. The museum's website indicated that most guests spend about 3-4 hours there. "Pfft," I thought. "There's no way I'll be there that long."


All told, we spent about three and a half hours at the museum. There's absolutely no way to explain to you how large aircraft carriers are. There was A LOT to see. Even after spending all that time there, without any breaks for food, we still didn't see everything.

Tickets to the museum cost $20, with lower prices for people such as seniors, children, and retired military. Parking costs $10. My brother and I took the train from Oceanside to downtown San Diego and walked to the museum from there; that walk was less than half a mile. Included in the ticket price are free self-guided tour devices, a free movie about the Battle of Midway (the aircraft carrier, built in 1945, was named after this battle), and a free docent-guided tour of the "tower," where the bridge and officers' quarters are located.

I didn't take a ton of pictures, but here are some of the better ones that I did.

I really liked this stained glass "window" in the chapel. The chapel itself was surprisingly small for a ship that carried 4500 people. I would say it fit approximately 20.

The Midway has a lot of "Asian" influenced decor. My self-guided tour device said this was because the ship spent so much of its time docked in Asia. I loved this screen in the enlisted officers' mess hall (I may have the terminology wrong; this was the mess for the people who weren't grunts but also weren't at the top.)

The "tower." The person-cutouts against the wall at the bottom of the tower explain how all the people who work out on the flight deck are color-coded. The people in purple, for example, are the ones who refuel the plane (that was my grandfather's job when he served during WWII).

View of downtown San Diego from the tower.

View of San Diego Bay from the tower.

View of the flight deck from the tower. The air craft carrier docked in the distance is an active duty carrier.

You may have heard about the storm that recently slammed California. Our trip to the Midway happened on the day it rolled into town. The wind out on the flight deck was insane. I nearly got blown off my feet more than once.

 View out a porthole.

Another view out a porthole reminds you to be aware of your surroundings while you're on the flight deck.

Coronado Bridge in the distance with pretty clouds.

Back end of some of the aircraft out on the flight deck, on the way down to the flight crews' ready rooms.

I liked the aerial view of these trees' roots.

Given my undying love for the Portland Timbers, I decided that this flight crew's patch was my favorite.

Radar screen. My husband is a former (submarine) Navy guy. I've heard many a story about how boring it was to sit and stare at a screen like this for hours on end.

Until very, very recently (mere days before I saw it in person), I had no idea that there was a giant statue of "Unconditional Surrender" on the San Diego Bay waterfront. That's the Midway in the background.

Downtown San Diego.

In the end, I enjoyed my visit to the Midway. I found it really interesting. I'm glad that my brother wanted to go because I never would have gone on my own. The next time you're in San Diego, I highly recommend a visit!


Patricia said...

It sounds really interesting. I'm fascinated by all sorts of military stuff in the way that means I never think about it, but am quite happy to learn about it at museums like this.

There was a This American Life episode in the early 2000s where Ira Glass visited an aircraft carrier. One of the first interviews they played was Ira Glass with a woman filling a vending machine. "Is that your full time job?" Ira asked, clearly expecting the answer to be no. But it was. She was in the Navy and her full-time job was restocking vending machines on an aircraft carrier. That gave me a very good idea of just how big that ship was.

balyien said...

I feel the same way about military stuff. I never actively think about it myself, but any time I go to a military-themed museum or fort or anything of that sort, I always have a good time and learn a lot!

I'm still astounded by the size though. I had absolutely no concept of it before the fact.