It’s hard to find better examples of America’s engineering ingenuity than it’s military assets. There are fewer better examples of this excellence than a WWII aircraft carrier such as the USS Hornet. The carrier is mostly a self-guided tour so you can pace yourself as you see fit.
The Hornet has a colorful and varied history. This ship (CV-12) is actually the second USS Hornet to serve in WWII. The first one (CV-8) was destroyed early on in the war. This ship was actually renamed while being built to carry on the Hornet namesake.
After paying your $20 adult admission fee, you enter the museum on the hanger deck and find the ship’s bell as your first artifact. The admission fees vary by age, membership, and military status.
The hanger deck offers an introductory video about the history of this mighty ship. There are also numerous aircraft and helicopters on display.
This board was one of the more interesting features on display. This is basically the Hornet’ scorecard from World War II.
From the hanger deck you can wander downstairs to view not only the ship itself, but many museum displays. Just be prepared to watch your step and your head as you pass through these doorways.
Some of the displays are entire rooms such as the flight ready room above. It is set up like it was during WWII to give you a sense of what the pilots briefings were like.
Room after room are filled with displays of history. This display is of the name “Hornet” and its history. This ship is the eighth ship to carry the Hornet name.
Many of the displays are exhibits about other WWII aircraft carriers. This display highlights the Jimmy Doolittle Raid which happened from the previous USS Hornet (CV-8).
There are quite a few displays with models of the aircraft carriers. This one is the USS Enterprise of which my grandfather served on for a time.
Coming back up to the hanger deck you get a sense of its size from the far end. This view is approximately half of the length of the ship.
They even have a simulator available for an extra fee.
This painting on display shows the variety of aircraft that have flown off of the flight deck of this majestic carrier through its career.
One of the ship’s most famous part in history is when the Hornet was involved in retrieving the Apollo 11 capsule upon returning from a trip to the moon. This is the first “land” that the astronaut felt upon their return.
Because NASA was not sure what microbes the astronauts might bring back with them, they were held under quarantine here in this mobile facility until medically cleared.
There are a number of tours available on the Hornet. This one that I took was a tour of the navigation bridge. The picture above is of our tour guide and the ancient navigation equipment used back in those days when there was no GPS system.
These tours are generally led by volunteer veterans. The neat thing is that these veterans are filled with stories of what it was like actually living and working on the carriers.
Of course some of the best views are from the bridge.
A great piece of American history that spans WWII through the space age. In addition to the tour of the ship you can get some wonderful views of San Francisco across the bay.
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