18-19 Feb 2015; A Windy Move and the National Naval Aviation Museum

Terri and I were up early on the 18th, but we didn’t hit the road at 0900 like we had planned.  We were about an hour off from that mark, as it took longer to get going in the morning than anticipated due to the rain not ending until late at night…contrary to what the weatherman said.  So…it took a bit to get things dried out and stowed for the move.  We were on the road at about 1000, and this part the weatherman did get correct…WIND!  We were on back roads through Southern GA and Northern FL until we got near Tallahassee, at which time we dropped down to I-10.  At that time the wind started…right on cue!  We bucked steady 20 MPH winds and gusts of 30-35 MPH all the way to the camp ground at NAS Pensacola, Blue Angel Park, which is located on Perdido Bay.

We were no worse for the wear, other than feeling like we had been on the ocean most of the day.  It really wasn’t too bad, and the Coach handled the wind real well.  Once we arrived, we had our pick of about 8 different spots, and chose a back-in spot that has a view of Perdido Bay out of our front window.

Sunset over Period Bay just out front of our camp site.

Sunset over Perdido Bay just out front of our camp site.

The sun is almost wet...the wind was calming down by this point, and mixed with clear skies, we got down to the low 20's last night.

The sun is almost wet (see the flash of green?)…the wind was calming down by this point, and mixed with clear skies, we got down to the low 20’s last night.

This is a real nice park, and there appears to be a lot to do outside, but it never got up to 50 today, so we decided to see what we could find to do out of the wind.  We had heard a lot of good things about the National Naval Aviation Museum located on the main base of NAS Pensacola.  What a great museum!  Just to tell you how good, we will be going back tomorrow.  Best of all, it is free!!  This museum is completely run by volunteers, and not a dime of tax payer dollars went into building it, staffing it, or restoring the aircraft or other displays they have.  The place is HUGE…inside and out.  The main building houses past era aircraft and other displays, and Hangar 1 displays current, or new era craft.  That was closed today as they were moving a new plane in for display, so we will go see that tomorrow.

We started up a conversation with one of the volunteers, and I could go on and on about what we didn’t know about Naval Aviation until today, but instead of boring you with that, I’ll just touch on a couple of high points.  The volunteer we were talking with was going into detail about the dirigible program, and then started talking about CV 6…the original Enterprise Air Craft Carrier, which is the most decorated carrier of WW-II.  I loved this carrier as a child, and had several models that I built from kits.  It was just so intriguing.  The newer Enterprise, which was commissioned in the early 60’s was impressive as well, and I had models of that also.  So where am I going with this?  This true story of the day is one of my favorites.  The volunteer told us several stories of former military personnel that have come through and were able to provide additional detail, funding, or just great stories.

On one particular day, a tour group was near the Enterprise exhibit, which was very small at the time.  One gentleman named Jack Taylor stepped forward and stated he flew F6F Hellcats off of the Enterprise in WW-II and he was disappointed about the tiny exhibit.  The volunteers explained that the museum lives on donations, so Jack asked how much they needed to make a better exhibit.  The volunteer asked how much he wanted to give, and Jack said $2 million.  They marched him over to the office where he wrote a check for the grand exhibit they have depicting both Enterprises, life aboard an Air Craft Carrier, landing exhibits, and on and on.  Come to find out, Jack Taylor founded what was to become Enterprise Rent-A-Car, naming it for the famous ship!

The Taylor family also funded the recovery and raising of an F6F-3 Hellcat from the bottom of Lake Michigan 2009.  Apparently, there are still a lot of Naval Aircraft at the bottom of Lake Michigan, where they conducted training for Air Craft Carrier landings for many years.  There are many other stories, but let’s stick with some photo stories for now.

The entry to the museum.

The entry to the museum.

Terri in front of 1 of hundreds of displays.

Terri in front of one of the hundreds of displays. This is the front of a F11F Tiger.

The trainer flown by George H.W. Bush during training.

The trainer flown by George H.W. Bush.

The log book as proof.

The log book as proof.



Guess what Marine flew this model??

Guess what Marine flew this model??

Yep...Pappy Boyington!

Yep…Pappy Boyington!

Blue Angel display!

Blue Angel display!

Later we had an outside tour on a trolley (free again) and saw numerous aircraft of note that span the years and the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

Later we had an outside tour on a trolley (free again) and saw numerous aircraft of note that span the years of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

If you are ever in the area and get the chance, this museum is a MUST SEE.  It is on par with the Air and Space Museum in DC for sure.  This museum is also open to the public.  The only fee services are the numerous IMAX shows they have, and a simulator that you can try your hand at.  As I stated earlier, we will go back.

We then took a drive down Perdido Key to Gulf Shores, AL and back to the park via a big circle to the West.

Tech Tip:  RV Forums, tech manuals, Google, and your wife are good resources for issues that can and will go wrong!  I was going to take a walk when we got back, but it was rather cold in the Coach, so to warm it up faster than just the electric space heater, I cranked on the Hurricane Hydronic Heater, which has worked flawlessly…until tonight!  I covered this in the past, and if you read the previous articles on this heater, it provides the freeze protection in the water bays, as well as house heat.  Well, I could hear the water pump come on, and the fan as well, but I could hear the burner going out right after the igniter clicked on.  I went outside to the bay and found I had an ignition fault…crap!  Not tonight…it is supposed to be ugly cold (sorry my Northern friends…for this area anything below 35 is ugly cold) here again, and I don’t want to freeze up.  So…I recalled the manuals I had read on-line about this particular model indicated the most common cause is air in the lines.  I noted that the fuel filter was empty, so, duh, you cannot ignite if you don’t have fuel.  My worst worry was a bad fuel pump.  We shut the system completely down, and fired it back up again, at which time I opened the air bleed valve, and some fuel started to flow.  We cycled the system a few times, and everything seems to be working properly for the time being…whewwww!!  Terri would have gotten really cold during the night if our only heat source was our electric heater, which I would have had to put in the wet bay to keep things from freezing.  I would have slept there:)  Just kidding of course…this thing seals up pretty tight, and I’ve not seen the temp in the wet bay get below the low 40’s on cooler nights when I have not had the freeze protection on.  I also turn the bay lights on for additional heat.  But…this is an indication I have an air leak somewhere for the Hurricane…we will have to track that down.  Some may ask…Hey Ron, I thought you had Heat Pumps in that baby?  Well, yes I do…two of them in fact; however, they do not work for heating real well at all when it gets below 40 degrees.

Tech Tip, or maybe “Non-Dumb Ron:”  When you have a wife that likes to tinker and she has an electronics background…let her “putz.”  I don’t think I mentioned it before, but I lost the “electric” in my “electric” drivers seat while leaving Melbourne, FL a couple of weeks ago.  Thankfully, the seat was in a position that was “adequate” for the controls, and far enough ahead that the slide could come in and go out (thankfully!)  However, the seat was stuck with the seat pan in the forward leaning position…this is not good after about 150 miles or so.  Our trip here was a bout 300 miles, and my lower back paid the price for sure.  While I was writing this blog, I noted Terri was on her back, under the driver’s seat.  A few (several) minutes later, she said…fixed!  She found some wires that I was not able to locate last week, and she’s got it working again.  This gave her the confidence to tackle the passenger chair, which has an electric foot rest that is really nice…when it works.  It is really a recliner…and very well made.  One of the best in the industry from all the reviews we have seen.  But, as you well know…the good stuff breaks just like the not so good stuff.  She initially got it working again, but only to extend the foot rest.  We are still working on getting it to go the other way:)  We have a few more days to work on that.  It’s time to button this up for now.

As always, we hope you are Happy, Healthy, and Living Your Dreams!!!


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