Planes and people on USS Midway’s flight deck.

USS Midway visitor takes photograph with selfie stick next to aircraft launching Shooter mannequin.
USS Midway visitor takes photograph with selfie stick next to aircraft-launching Shooter mannequin.

I hope you enjoy a few photos I took recently of planes and people (and helicopters) on the flight deck of San Diego’s USS Midway Museum. The historic aircraft carrier served longer than any other American carrier in the 20th century, spanning five decades from 1945 to 1992. Countless amazing stories have been lived by thousands serving aboard the USS Midway, and many of those stories continue today as docents and volunteers relate their personal shipboard experiences to visitors from around the world. San Diego’s unique aircraft carrier museum, now over ten years old, hosts over a million visitors a year.

Midway’s large flight deck, enlarged from 2.8 to 4 acres in 1966, today features a couple dozen restored aircraft that represent different eras of modern military history. The internet is jammed with pages showing and describing these aircraft in detail, so I thought I’d just provide a quick flavor of what it’s like to walk out on the flight deck on a typical San Diego day. If you’d like to take the cool self-guided tour of the ship, which I highly recommend, plan to spend at least an hour!

Lady walks past F-14 Tomcat fighter jet on USS Midway aircraft carrier's flight deck.
Lady walks past F-14 Tomcat fighter jet on USS Midway aircraft carrier’s flight deck.
Tourists at USS Midway Museum walk out onto one of the two horns that project over San Diego Bay.
Tourists at USS Midway Museum walk out onto one of the two horns that project over San Diego Bay.
Sign describes how to read Navy flag signals.
Sign describes how to read Navy flag signals.
Man lingers near F-8 Crusader, the US Navy's first supersonic fighter.
Man lingers near F-8 Crusader, the US Navy’s first supersonic fighter.
People sit on benches listening to a docent talk about launching airplanes from Midway's two steam-powered catapults.
People sit on benches listening to a docent talk about launching airplanes from Midway’s two steam-powered catapults.
Guy checks out A-7 Corsair ready to be launched from powerful catapult, which accelerated aircraft to 170 mph in about 3 seconds!
Guy checks out A-7 Corsair positioned to be launched from powerful catapult, which accelerated aircraft to 170 mph in about 3 seconds!
Young couple takes a look at E-2 Hawkeye, an Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Young couple takes a look at E-2 Hawkeye, an Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Looking south from atop the flight deck. Seen are the Unconditional Surrender statue, Tuna Harbor, and the Coronado Bay Bridge.
Looking south from atop the flight deck. Seen are the Unconditional Surrender statue, Tuna Harbor, and the Coronado Bay Bridge.
USS Midway visitors enjoy a sunny San Diego day near EKA-3 Skywarrior.
USS Midway visitors enjoy a sunny San Diego day near EKA-3 Skywarrior.
Visitors find out what it's like inside a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.
Visitors find out what it’s like inside a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.
Peering through cockpit of HO3S utility helicopter at the nearby HUP Retriever.
Peering through cockpit of HO3S utility helicopter at the nearby HUP Retriever.
This HO3S Dragonfly, first helicopter aboard the USS Midway in 1948, is undergoing restoration.
This HO3S Dragonfly, first helicopter aboard the USS Midway in 1948, is undergoing restoration.
Docent veteran talks about how aircraft landed on the flight deck using tailhooks and arresting cables.
Docent veteran talks about how aircraft landed on the flight deck using a tailhook and multiple arresting cables.
Exhibit on Midway's LSO Platform shows how Navy pilots landed in difficult conditions, relying on optical guidance.
Exhibit on Midway’s LSO Platform shows how Navy pilots landed in difficult conditions, relying on optical guidance.
Navy pilot mannequin in flight suit stands near FA-18 Hornet, painted as a TOPGUN enemy aircraft.
Navy pilot mannequin in flight suit stands near FA-18 Hornet, painted as a TOPGUN enemy aircraft.
A-6 Intruder bomber on display near USS Midway's superstructure.
A-6 Intruder bomber on display near USS Midway’s superstructure.
Volunteers work to restore SH-2 Seasprite, beyond orange nose of H-34 Seabat.
Volunteers work to restore SH-2 Seasprite, beyond orange nose of H-34 Seabat.
The huge flight deck of the USS Midway Museum hosts visitors from around the world, special military-related events, decades of history, and never-ending activity on San Diego Bay.
The huge flight deck of the USS Midway Museum hosts visitors from around the world, special military-related events, decades of history, and never-ending activity on San Diego Bay.

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Students interview veterans for USS Midway exhibit.

Visitor to USS Midway Museum on Memorial Day weekend absorbs Portraits of Resilience exhibit, created by students of High Tech High Charter School.
Visitor to USS Midway Museum on Memorial Day weekend absorbs Portraits of Resilience exhibit, created by students of High Tech High Charter School.

This morning I walked a little around the USS Midway. The historic aircraft carrier is now a popular museum docked on San Diego Bay. I was there because it’s Memorial Day weekend, and I have personal experiences that make me grateful for America and our brave servicepeople. But I won’t blog about that here.

I was surprised to see a thought-provoking exhibit being set up in the hangar deck of the Midway. I learned it was a project of students at High Tech High, which is a charter school in Point Loma. 50 students interviewed 50 veterans, to learn about war, and peace, and human resiliency.

I took some photos in less-than-optimal lighting, and my flash wasn’t entirely helpful, so I had to apply a good deal of contrast.

Portraits of Resilience. 50 students. 50 veterans. 50 powerful portraits.
Portraits of Resilience. 50 students. 50 veterans. 50 powerful portraits.
The whole point of the Armed Forces is to protect freedoms so that people can agree or disagree with what's going on.
The whole point of the Armed Forces is to protect freedoms so that people can agree or disagree with what’s going on.
Greatness isn't achieved randomly. You need to set goals.
Greatness isn’t achieved randomly. You need to set goals.
It's people. It was always people. I didn't want to let anyone down.
It’s people. It was always people. I didn’t want to let anyone down.
A veteran reads words of memory and wisdom spoken by others who've served in the military.
A veteran reads words of pain, joy, memory and wisdom spoken by others who’ve served in the military.
Everything is written in pencil. As soon as you have a plan, thirty minutes later it changes.
Everything is written in pencil. As soon as you have a plan, thirty minutes later it changes.
Don't waste your time worrying, worrying, worrying! You're only going to get wrinkles!
Don’t waste your time worrying, worrying, worrying! You’re only going to get wrinkles!
My best decision was marrying my wife. My number two was being a pilot and getting my wings.
My best decision was marrying my wife. My number two was being a pilot and getting my wings.
No matter how your grades are what people thank about you, do what you want to do and you can accomplish it.
No matter how your grades are or what people think about you, do what you want to do and you can accomplish it.
We didn't have names of battles. We had excursions, and we had firefights, but we didn't have names of them.
We didn’t have names of battles. We had excursions, and we had firefights, but we didn’t have names of them.
When you return, things are physically and emotionally different. It's like moving from one world to another.
When you return, things are physically and emotionally different. It’s like moving from one world to another.
They had tears of joy, they couldn't believe that someone had documented what they had done; they were proud, they were happy.
They had tears of joy, they couldn’t believe that someone had documented what they had done; they were proud, they were happy.
You're watching his back, he's watching your back.
You’re watching his back, he’s watching your back.
Now when somebody says,
Now when somebody says, “Thank you for your service”, I look them directly in the eye and say, “It was my privilege”.

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World War II vets honored on USS Midway.

Grossmont High School NJROTC Ceremonial Color Guard waits for this morning's program to begin.
Grossmont High School NJROTC Ceremonial Color Guard waits for an important event to begin.

This morning I attended a moving ceremony. Americans who fought in World War II, members of The Greatest Generation, were honored in a special Veterans Wreath Ceremony on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum. It’s one of several events taking place on the USS Midway this Memorial Day weekend. San Diego’s popular aircraft carrier museum promises to be a very busy hub of activity.

I took a few photographs of the ceremony. It was short, but very meaningful.

People cross flight deck of USS Midway aircraft carrier museum to attend a special Memorial Day weekend event. Chairs are for a Wynonna Judd Judd performance later this evening.
People cross flight deck of USS Midway aircraft carrier museum to attend a special Memorial Day weekend event. (Chairs are for a Wynonna Judd concert later this evening.)
Looking south over San Diego Bay from upper deck of USS Midway Museum.
Looking south over San Diego Bay from upper deck of USS Midway Museum. Unconditional Surrender statue can be seen below.
Pomerado Community Band plays music before start of short ceremony that honors World War II veterans.
Pomerado Community Band plays music before start of short ceremony that honors World War II veterans.
God Bless America sung with a deep, resonant voice. Many in the crowd listen with emotion.
God Bless America sung with a deep, resonant voice. Many in the crowd listen with emotion.
Guests are ready for the special Memorial Day weekend Veterans Wreath Ceremony to begin.
Guests are ready for the special Memorial Day weekend Veterans Wreath Ceremony to begin.
There are two wreaths. One commemorates those who fought in World War II's Pacific Ocean theater. The second wreath is dedicated to those who served in Europe.
There are two wreaths. One commemorates those who fought in the World War II Pacific theater. The second wreath is dedicated to those who served in Europe.
This honored vet performed his duty in the Pacific during the Second World War. With him are two other generations.
This honored vet performed his duty in the Pacific during the Second World War. With him are two other generations.
This energetic vet helped bring peace to Europe, defeating Nazis and fascists who threatened human liberty.
Also honored was energetic Stu Hedley, who is a Pearl Harbor survivor.
Vintage World War II P-35 fighter aircraft from Air Group One (San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force) flies over during the ceremony.
Vintage World War II P-35 fighter aircraft from Air Group One (San Diego Wing of the Commemorative Air Force) flies over during the ceremony.
The wreaths are presented to the two representative veterans, who will toss them into the water.
The wreaths are presented to the two representative veterans, who will toss them into the water.
In a time-honored ritual and tribute, the first wreath takes flight as many watch.
In a time-honored ritual and tribute, the first wreath takes flight as many watch and The Remembrance Bell is rung.
Flowers and memories float on San Diego Bay on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend.
Flowers and memories float on San Diego Bay on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend.
A photo from the flight deck of the USS Midway. The historic aircraft carrier is used for many military ceremonies in San Diego.
A photo from the flight deck of the USS Midway. The historic aircraft carrier is used for many military ceremonies in San Diego.

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Aircraft Carrier Memorial on San Diego Bay.

Man points out a recent fleet carrier name on the Aircraft Carrier Memorial.
Man points out a recent fleet carrier name on the Aircraft Carrier Memorial.

Take a stroll down the Greatest Generation Walk on San Diego’s Embarcadero and you’re likely to see people standing beside the Aircraft Carrier Memorial, just gazing at the long list of historic Navy ships. Many will run their hand along the black marble obelisk as they search for the ship on which they or a loved one served.

The listed names include every fleet carrier, training carrier, light carrier, escort carrier, and amphibious assault ship from American history. Well, almost. I’ve noticed the fleet carrier section has run out of space, and the last ship named is the Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). No room remains to engrave the more recent USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

Sculpture of a sailor who served aboard a flattop.
Sculpture of a sailor who served aboard a flattop.
Obelisk of Aircraft Carrier Memorial remembers past ships from history.
Obelisk of Aircraft Carrier Memorial remembers past ships from naval history.

The memorial contains the following words:

The advent of the aircraft carrier revolutionized modern naval warfare. This memorial was conceived by aircraft carrier veterans to honor this nation’s carriers and the personnel who proudly served aboard them. Powered by the human soul, these ships changed the course of history.

This site is known as the old navy “fleet landing”…where countless thousands of servicemen boarded boats that transported them to their ships.

The names of all U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and their hull numbers are inscribed hereon…from the smallest to the largest. Every “flattop” is of equal distinction…none above the other. The personnel who manned, fought and in some cases perished aboard these ships were and are a part of the finest Navy and Marine Corps in the world.

Sculpture of a naval aviator who flew from a carrier.
Sculpture of a naval aviator who flew from a carrier.
The Aircraft Carrier Memorial can be found on San Diego's Greatest Generation Walk.
The Aircraft Carrier Memorial can be found on San Diego’s Greatest Generation Walk.

The Greatest Generation Walk is located on San Diego Bay, just south of the USS Midway Museum.

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Flag Day in downtown San Diego.

Tangled flag hangs in front of San Diego hotel.
Tangled flag hangs in front of San Diego hotel.

Today is national Flag Day. So during my afternoon walk around downtown San Diego I took photos exclusively of American flags. Here are some shots that you might find interesting…

American flags top many tall office buildings.
American flags top many tall office buildings.
Flag Day celebrated from a downtown rooftop.
Flag Day celebrated from a modest downtown rooftop.
Reflection on windows of big American flag mural.
Reflection on windows of big American flag mural.
Bald eagle and American flag mural on Beech Street wall.
Bald eagle and American flag mural on Beech Street wall.
Patriotic flags on USS Midway superstructure.
Patriotic flags on USS Midway Museum superstructure.
Red, white and blue adorn cafe below flight deck.
Red, white and blue adorn cafe below USS Midway flight deck.
Small boat cruises San Diego Bay with flag.
Small boat cruises around San Diego Bay with flag.
Gulls take flight by American flag on Embarcadero.
Gulls take flight by American flag on busy Embarcadero.
Old Town Trolley Tours booth has a flag out.
Old Town Trolley Tours booth has a flag out.
Flag in the sea breeze above Star of India.
Flag flies proudly in the sea breeze above Star of India.

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Bronze plaque marks birthplace of naval aviation.

Bronze plaque in Coronado marks birthplace of naval aviation.
Bronze plaque in Coronado marks birthplace of naval aviation.

In Coronado’s beautiful Centennial Park, just north of the Coronado Ferry Landing, you can find this relatively new bronze plaque. It marks the birthplace of naval aviation, Rockwell Field, which no longer exists.

The historical marker reads:

BIRTHPLACE OF NAVAL AVIATION

In 1910, on the unoccupied brushland of North Coronado Island, inventor and entrepreneur Glenn Hammond Curtiss opened his winter flying school for prospective “aeroplane pilots.” Among his first class of students was Navy Lieutenant Theodore G. “Spuds” Ellyson, who would become the first Naval Aviator. In 1917, the U.S. Congress appropriated the island to support the World War I effort and two airfields occupied its sandy flats–the Navy’s “Camp Trouble” and the Army Signal Corps’ Rockwell Field. The Army vacated Rockwell Field in 1935, at which time the Navy expanded its operations to cover the whole island. Many aviation milestones originated from North Island including the first seaplane flight in the United States in 1911.

San Diego, California was designated the “Birthplace of Naval Aviation” by the Armed Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives on 24 March 1961.

Marker Placed By

California State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution

2011

Historical marker is located near east end of Centennial Park.
Historical marker is located near east end of Centennial Park.
Rockwell Field in 1924.
Rockwell Field in 1924.

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Restored Wildcat fighter lifted onto USS Midway.

Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.
Wildcat fighter plane arrives at Navy Pier.

Every so often a new plane is added to the Midway Museum collection.  The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway, active from 1945 to 1992, now has a couple dozen restored airplanes among its exhibits.  Today the latest addition was hoisted up onto the dockside elevator by crane from the pier below!  I was there to snap a few cool pics!

The last time I saw an airplane brought over from North Island, where the restorations take place, it was by barge.  So I was surprised this time when a plane arrived on the back of a truck.  This F4F Wildcat is a specimen  of the small carrier-based fighter that helped to win the Battle of Midway during World War II.  This particular plane was salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  Restoration in a special hangar at Naval Air Station North Island, across San Diego Bay, took three years.  You’ll notice the wings are missing from the fuselage.  They came in on a second truck!

The first photo shows the Wildcat arriving on the opposite side of Navy pier.

Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.
Historic airplane transported by truck to USS Midway.

The truck has pulled alongside USS Midway’s dockside elevator, which is lowered and ready to receive the new exhibit.

Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway's elevator.
Preparing to lift Wildcat onto USS Midway’s elevator.

A small crane waits off to the left to lift the airplane.  Here we see some preliminary preparations.

Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.
Crane begins to lift F4F Wildcat onto USS Midway.

Up it goes!  Everybody was extremely careful that no mishaps occurred!

Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.
Aircraft is placed on USS Midway while people watch from flight deck.

And finally the F4F Wildcat is aboard its new home!  This plane will be part of a three dimensional theater exhibit called Battle of Midway Experience.  I can’t wait to see it!