San Diego has many fine sights to see, but there are very few that are as awe-inspiring as the USS Midway Museum. Easy to get to from anywhere, the USS Midway Museum is officially located alongside Navy Pier at 910 North Harbor Drive in Downtown San Diego. As you drive down Harbor Drive and get closer, you’ll gain a true appreciation of the mammoth proportions of the Navy’s longest serving aircraft carrier.
If you are visiting from out-of-town, make sure you put this floating museum on your schedule of fun things to see and do in San Diego. It would not be hard to think of 50 reasons why you should visit the USS Midway, but in the interest of not over-doing it, here are 10 good ones.
1. Honoring All The Men Who Served
Roughly 200,000 young men served aboard the USS Midway between 1945 and 1992. They served our country proudly and selflessly. About 200 of them perished while serving. A visit to the Midway is a way of showing your respect and giving thanks to all those brave crew members. They served in battle and they served on humanitarian missions. Visiting the carrier is a tribute to the veterans as well as the men and women who are actively serving in today’s Navy. Whether you come from a military family or not, every American will feel it in their heart when they climb aboard this distinguished vessel. The Midway’s crew represented the best of America.
2. Learn About the Historic Operations
The Midway had a long and storied run before it was decommissioned in 1992. It had missions around the globe. It sailed through the Arctic and was positioned in the Indian Ocean and West Pacific. It served in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. You’ll hear all about Operation Frostbite in 1946 and Operation Sandy in 1947. Later in history, you’re self-guided audio tour will take you through 1975’s Operation Frequent Wind and Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield of the First Gulf War.
3. Explore the Flight Deck
It took an incredibly coordinated effort to launch and land planes on the flight deck. Many of the missions took place in the dead of night. It was always serious when a plane was catapulted off the deck in about 3 seconds and at a speed of 170 miles per hour. Every landing had to be done with precision. If a pilot did not approach from the right angle and snag his tailhook on the arresting cable, the consequences could be disastrous. During the Midway’s first combat operations in 1965, 11,900 missions were flown and 22 Midway aircraft were lost. When you explore the flight deck you will see several dozen vintage airplanes and helicopters. Kids can even climb into the pilot seat on some of the planes. It’s way cool!
4. Take to the Air in a Flight Simulator
If you want to get the rush of being catapulted off the deck in a matter of seconds, take a seat in one of the three flight simulators. It is a realistic experience that will twist and turn you through some evasive maneuvers and barrel rolls just like the real pilots experienced when they launched from the USS Midway.
5. Take the Self-Guided Audio Tour
Take advantage of the self-guided audio tour that is narrated by actual Midway sailors. You can tell from the passion in their voices that they just loved having the chance to tell the story of the Midway. The audio tour covers some 60 exhibits.
6. Climb Up to the Bridge
The tallest point of the ship is also the place where the Captain controlled the ship. The instrument panels told the Commander what he needed to know to keep this floating city operating at peak efficiency. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the friendly sailors/docents.
7. Anchors Away
How do you keep one of the world’s biggest vessels from drifting? You simply let down the anchor. Over 1,800 feet of anchor chain was kept aboard the Midway and each chain link weighed 156 pounds. Fortunately, the anchor was lowered and raised by mechanical means.
8. A Small, Self-Contained City
The crew could spend months at sea so the ship had to be engineered to provide all of the necessities of everyday life. About 4,500 men were aboard the USS Midway on any particular mission. The ship produced 240,000 gallons of fresh water each day. Each day some 10 tons of food was consumed as the cooks prepared 13,500 individual meals. There was a butcher shop, a bakery and all of the coffee you wanted to drink. There was a medical staff and operating room. On occasion, someone would be locked up in the ship’s brig.
9. Powering the Ship
It took 12 massive Babcock and Wilcox boilers to power the four Westinghouse turbines that produced the 212,000 horsepower necessary to propel and operate the 45,000-ton Midway. The ship could reach could “officially” reach a cruising speed of 33 knots (38 mph)and used 100,000 of fuel each day.
10. Bring Home Some Special Memories
There are great photo opportunities both inside and outside the USS Midway. From your perch on the bridge, you can get great shots of the flight deck and planes. Pictures with the city skyline and harbor in the background are always great. Visit the gift shop and take home a few souvenirs.
Photographers: thank you for sharing your gorgeous fun filled photos! We wish everyone a wonderful time in San Diego and hope to see you all one day at the Mission Valley Resort! 🌺 🌊 🌴