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Midway relaunching as museum

At the facility floating off San Diego's Navy Pier, visitors can roam the ship's hangar and flight decks to view exhibits, historic aircraft.

June 06, 2004|Jane Engle | Los Angeles Times

The Navy's longest-serving aircraft carrier is scheduled to open Monday as a floating naval aviation museum in San Diego.

The 45,000-ton Midway, named for the Pacific island where U.S. forces defeated a Japanese fleet in a key World War II battle, was launched in 1945, expanded to 74,000 tons and retired in 1992.

It sailed the Arctic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific waters, among others, and saw action in the Vietnam War and 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Among the Midway's historic contributions was hosting the first jet takeoff from a carrier.

The ship's arrival from Bremerton, Wash., and six-month refurbishment in San Diego were the result of a decade-long effort by boosters, who raised $8 million in private financing for the nonprofit museum.

The Midway has been renamed the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum and now floats alongside Navy Pier at 910 N. Harbor Drive. Visitors can roam the hangar deck, berthing spaces, bridge and flight deck, viewing more than 30 exhibits and eight historic aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom and SNJ Texan.

"This is the first phase of the museum," spokesman Scott McGaugh said. "Every few months we'll be adding exhibits, expanding public space and adding restored aircraft."

The first exhibits focus on life aboard the Midway at sea, including its galley and post office. The museum expects to begin docent-led tours in August, McGaugh said.

The museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except major holidays. Admission, which includes an audio guide, will be $13 adults; $10 seniors 62 and older, college students and retired military; $7 ages 6 to 17; free for those younger than 6 and for active-duty military personnel in uniform.

For more information, call (619) 702-7700 or visit www.midway.org.

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