PENSACOLA — In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the National Naval Aviation Museum recently opened a new exhibit and will be hosting a space-themed celebration the weekend of July 20–21.
Located in the gallery of the museum’s Emil Buehler Naval Aviation Library, “Apollo: The Path to the Moon and Beyond” takes visitors on a 100-year journey from naval aviation’s earliest flights that laid the foundation for space travel, to the epic space race of the 1960s, to the current operations onboard the International Space Station.
Visitors will be able to see a flight suit worn by test pilot Apollo Soucek during record high-altitude flights in 1929 and 1930 and a flag flown during the second Byrd Antarctic expedition in 1935. Astronaut artifacts include training records from Neil Armstrong’s time as a flight student at NAS Pensacola and the flight jacket worn by John Young, who walked on the moon as the commander of Apollo 16, when he flew F-4 Phantom II fighters. Items flown on board the International Space Station are also displayed.
The exhibit is the newest addition to the museum’s coverage of naval aviation’s role in the space program, which includes a replica of the Lunar Module that astronauts landed on the moon and the actual rescue basket that pulled the Apollo 11 astronauts into a helicopter after their capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.
The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation also offers an Apollo 11 virtual reality experience and currently shows the movie “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” that tells the story of the landmark flight using never before seen 70mm footage. The film will show in the Giant Screen Theater on the hour, every hour, beginning at 10 a.m., with the last show at 4 p.m. The cost for a single movie ticket is $7 per person.
For the entire weekend, visitors who make a $25 donation will receive a limited edition Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin plus admission to the Giant Screen Theater’s “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition” and a ride on the new Apollo 11 virtual reality attraction.
Children can become space explorers and journey through the National Naval Aviation Museum’s many space exhibits.
On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors can experience hands-on space themed activities and robot displays from the Pensacola MESS Hall and IHMC. Families can visit the Nimitz Ticket Counter to redeem the Space Explorer card, collect stamps, then return the completed card to the Apollo 11 virtual reality attraction for a free space-themed prize. The Apollo-themed event is family-friendly, free and open to the public. For more event information, visit http://bit.ly/2YdYk92.