2016 NYC Trip Photos #14: War Wings III

F11F-1 Tiger!

This F11F-1 Tiger served from 1961 to 1963 as one of the Blue Angels. Now it’s retired and sunning itself in New York City.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

On our two trips last year, I found myself in the presence of two different aircraft collections: one at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, which keeps several full-size wartime plans suspended in midair inside a multi-million-dollar building; the other, at the unrelated National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs, which is relatively newer and dreams of funding that same square footage someday.

We found the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum doesn’t have quite as large a fleet as those two, but the worthy assortment on its upper deck, lacking the specialized scope of those other two museums, includes vehicles from other wars and eras, not just World War II.

Side note while you’re scrolling through the photo gallery: film fans may recognize the Intrepid from its big scene in I Am Legend, in which our hero Will Smith hangs around the upper deck by himself and whacks golf balls toward Manhattan for fun. I guess that’s one way to pass the time after the apocalypse.

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2016 NYC Trip Photos #13: The Intrepid Walk at Dawn

USS Intrepid!

Love, exciting and new! Come aboard — we’re expecting you!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year from 1999 to 2015 my wife Anne and I took a road trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. With my son’s senior year in college imminent and next summer likely to be one of major upheaval for him (Lord willing), the summer of 2016 seemed like a good time to get the old trio back together again for one last family vacation before he heads off into adulthood and forgets we’re still here. In honor of one of our all-time favorite vacations to date, we scheduled our long-awaited return to New York City…

We saw our first battleship on our 2008 road trip to Virginia Beach, which included a side stop in Norfolk to tour the USS Wisconsin. That story hasn’t yet been represented here on Midlife Crisis Crossover, but the short version is that it was huge, our veteran tour guide was a nice gentleman, the day was sweltering, and we hardly got to see inside. Our 2015 road trip through Alabama to New Orleans allowed for a digression in Mobile, home of the USS Alabama, which allowed us access to more areas of the ship while offering zero protection from the South’s summer heat. Frankly I have no idea how our soldiers can stand to serve on these things without roasting to medium well within minutes, but God bless ’em all for being better, sturdier people than me.

When most folks think of New York City, “battleship” isn’t usually among the first 500 words that come to mind. For us that changed when we learned the eastern shore of the Hudson River is the home of the USS Intrepid, docked on the western border of Hell’s Kitchen, several blocks from our hotel. It was convenient, it was showy, and it had a few special exhibits that dovetailed with our geek interests. So that’s why it was our first attraction on the morning of Day Four, and why this entry was nearly titled “Battleship III”.

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The Springs in Fall — 2015 Photos #22: War Wings II

Douglas A-1 Skyraider Missiles!

The wing of a Douglas A-1 Skyraider housing presumably unarmed missiles.

Last July my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the National World War II Museum in scenic New Orleans, Louisiana. Anne is the big, big WWII buff in the family, but I enjoyed myself well enough to devote four chapters to it in our nearly completed July 2015 road trip series (here, here, here, and especially here). Four months later, I was surprised to discover Colorado Springs has a place that’s the perfect sequel — the National Museum of WWII Aviation.

I previously posted about my Day Five visit later that evening from the hotel and used up most of my intro material in that one sitting. The single plane pictured in that entry, their F7F Tigercat, was hardly the only aircraft on the premises. The museum is 30% display cases and 70% actual war planes in various states of disrepair, restoration, and flight capability. Tonight’s presentation, then: another batch of World War II fighter planes to go with our July set.

Right this way for another lineup of America’s WWII airborne warcraft!

The Springs in Fall — 2015 Photos #16: The Air Force Academy Is…

Thunderbolt!

A tiny Thunderbolt is one of several statues on display in the Honor Court next to the Cadet Chapel.

While the distinctive Cadet Chapel is one of the most impressive architectural features of the U.S. Air Force Academy, it’s not the only sight to see. Visitor access is limited to select areas within their 18,500-acre campus, but in all honesty, the fact that we civilians are allowed within a thousand yards of the place is generous in itself.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #38: Battleship!

USS Alabama!

In game, you sink Battleship. In real life, battleship sink YOU.

After lunch, Day 5 saw us heading east along the Gulf Coast, back into the state of Alabama, slowly through the city of Mobile in congested traffic, and down to the shore of Mobile Bay, where they’ve docked the kind of enormous boat that would’ve been a big help against Jaws if it would’ve fit anywhere near Amity’s beaches.

Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Alabama.

Right this way for the scenic tour!

Missing the War

F7F Tigercat!

MCC readers may recall my wife Anne and I visited the National WWII Museum as part of our 2015 road trip to New Orleans back in July. When I researched possible stops for this week’s trip to Colorado Springs, I was surprised to find they have a logical companion attraction, the National Museum of WWII Aviation. The latter isn’t owned by the same people, hasn’t been given the same official accreditation, and definitely doesn’t have the same ginormous funding, but it serves as a local hands-on educational center for students and aficionados specifically interested in World War II air combat history. Like the National WWII Museum’s Boeing Center, this one boasts its own collection of vintage WWII planes in various states of flight readiness. Unlike its rival, this one isn’t afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of engine design, aviation mechanics, comparison/contrast studies with Axis aircraft, carburetor logistics, and related vocabulary such as “pitch” and “ailerons” and “sorties”. But the important thing is you still get to look at real planes.

Pictured above is their F7F Tigercat, one of the largest intact planes on site. This particular model wasn’t deemed ready for war use until August 1945, by which time the Allies had everything pretty much under control. The Tigercat came in handy years later as a night-flying option during the Korean War. Its development occurred during WWII, but it just missed out on any real action against Nazis or Zeros. It wasn’t the Tigercat’s fault that it couldn’t be there.

Anne, major WWII history buff that she is, might’ve appreciated the museum more than I did, if only she could’ve had that chance in person.

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2015 Road Trip Photos #19: War Wings

B25 Mitchell!

The B25 Mitchell is the kind of bomber used in the 1942 Doolittle Raid, as seen near the conclusion of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor and probably some other, better films.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our road trip to New Orleans continued as my wife and I spent much of Day 3 touring the National WWII Museum. Of all the buildings in the complex, the tallest was the most fascinating and contained the largest objects of all: half a dozen military airplanes suspended in midair.

(See that yellow-and-orange dot in the faraway window that kinda looks like a Ms. Pac-Man fruit? That’s my lovely wife.)

Right this way for the conclusion of a four-part photo-gallery miniseries!

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