Top Gun fans vs. reality on USS Midway!

Yesterday a large group of dedicated Top Gun movie fans from a Facebook group visited the USS Midway Museum.

They all were having a blast, some wearing movie-inspired flight suits, checking out exhibits at San Diego’s popular aircraft carrier museum, taking photos near an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, before heading off to dine at Kansas City Barbeque, where the bar scenes in Top Gun were filmed.

It was interesting to watch their enthusiasm for the classic movie, whose sequel Top Gun: Maverick will be debuting in one week on May 24. I loved the original Top Gun when it came out in 1986, myself!

As I toured the USS Midway yesterday, I noticed a variety of connections the historic aircraft carrier and its present-day museum have to the actual TOPGUN aviator school and its pilots depicted in both the original and upcoming movie.

An F-14 Tomcat on the flight deck of USS Midway. These fighter jets co-starred in the original Top Gun movie, providing exciting, incredible visuals.
A fan group is photographed during their Top Gun Days event aboard USS Midway in San Diego. Three actual Navy pilots pose in front.
Nearby on the flight deck is an F/A-18 Hornet. This fighter jet was used as an adversary during the original Top Gun. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will be flown by the characters of Top Gun: Maverick.
One of the pilot ready rooms inside the USS Midway aircraft carrier. VFA-151 Ready Room One is where F-18 pilots gathered for briefing before and after flights.
A look inside USS Midway’s F-18 ready room. During Operation Desert Storm, F-18 Hornets were launched from this long-lived aircraft carrier, which was built at the end of World War II.
What it would have been like sitting in the F-18 ready room. The characters in Top Gun: Maverick are F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots, part of a special detachment aboard an aircraft carrier.
White board at front of the ready room, with mission and aircraft details.
An exhibit aboard the USS Midway Museum details the history of TOPGUN, originally the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School located at NAS Miramar, aka Fightertown USA.
Exhibit concerns TOPGUN – The Early Years.
The Navy Fighter Weapons School was established on March 3, 1969 at NAS Miramar in San Diego, California. TOPGUN’s objective was to develop, refine and teach air combat maneuvering tactics and techniques to selected fleet air crews…
Museum exhibit video shows the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System TACTS in operation.
Visitors to the USS Midway Museum can climb into an F-14 Tomcat cockpit, located on the Hangar Deck.
Maverick call sign painted by the cockpit of the F-14 Tomcat.
The two-seated cockpit’s front seat, where an F-14 pilot sits facing his flight controls. The bubble canopy gives the pilot all-round visibility.
The rear seat of the F-14 cockpit, where Goose in the original Top Gun movie flew. This is where the fighter jet’s Radar Intercept Officer sat.

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Military Tribute at Civita in Mission Valley.

Protecting our Freedom.

Four years ago, Military Tribute Plaza was dedicated at Civita in Mission Valley.

This monument, saluting the United States Armed Services, features flags above black marble columns. Bronze plaques recall the history of each military branch in San Diego. Veterans are also honored.

I took these photographs a few weeks ago when I enjoyed a walk through the large Civita residential community. I thought now would be a good time to post them, because Veterans Day has arrived.

In Memory of The Five Grant Brothers Who Honorably Served Their Country During World War II.
SAN DIEGO’S COAST GUARD. One of the predecessors of the modern Coast Guard traces it presence in San Diego to the opening of the Point Loma Lighthouse in 1855…
SAN DIEGO’S AIR FORCE. Originally part of the U.S. Army, the Air Force took shape with military aviation at Rockwell Field at North Island, beginning in 1912…
Lt. Col. Ronald Grant, USAFR.
Lt. Tom (Suds) Sudberry.
SAN DIEGO’S NAVY. San Diego’s development owes much to the Navy, starting with the visit of the Great White Fleet of 16 battleships in 1908…
SAN DIEGO’S MARINE CORPS. Beginning in 1914, strife in Mexico created a continuing presence in San Diego for the U.S. Marine Corps…
SAN DIEGO’S ARMY. The U.S. Army was naturally in the forefront of San Diego’s American beginnings…

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Uncle Sam wants your Grandpa!

I spotted these attention-grabbing recruitment ads pasted to a wall while walking in downtown San Diego. It appears that Uncle Sam Wants Your Grandpa!

I then read the fine print. Actually, the USS Midway Museum is looking for volunteers. And I don’t think you even need to be a grandpa, or a veteran!

Want to make the past come alive on a historic aircraft carrier? Want to be part of a team that includes tutors, docents, storytellers and ambassadors?

Funny that I spotted these during San Diego Fleet Week.

Check out the details here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Monument to tallest structures ever built in San Diego.

For over seventy-five years, the tallest structures that have ever been built in San Diego County stood atop a hill in Chollas Heights, four miles east of downtown San Diego. Three enormous towers marked the location of U.S. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Chollas Heights, which operated the most powerful radio transmitter in North America.

A monument to these historically important towers can be viewed today at Lincoln Military Housing, across the street from the small Chollas Heights Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Museum, near the corner of College Grove Way and Transmitter Road.

The unusual monument is in fact a remnant of the old Navy communication station–an antenna that once was suspended 600 feet above ground.

While many San Diego residents saw three tall radio towers rising just north of Chollas Lake, their historical importance is less widely known. This is where the mainland United States received the first news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The U.S. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Chollas Heights was purposely built beside Chollas Lake so that its water might cool the heated transmitter tubes.

Chollas Heights. Home of the world’s first global naval radio transmitting facility. 1917-1991.

A small, very badly faded sign in front of the old antenna provides interesting information. I’ve transcribed the words:

This structure once perched 600 feet above the ground atop Tower 33, which was one of three towers. In the center of the tower array, wires suspended an antenna so high it was almost invisible. Completed in 1917, the Chollas Heights complex accommodated the largest and most powerful radio transmitter in North America. The historic 200 kilowatt poulsen-arc transmitters had an unprecedented 12,000-mile range and broadcast at a frequency of 30.6 kilocycles. The innovations of the arc, or continuous wave, transmitter improved the range and reliability of communications over that of traditional “spark” transmitters. These could not be tuned to a specific frequency, so they encountered much interference. A landmark in the development of radio, the Chollas Heights facility played a vital role in Naval communications during World War I.

Built between 1915 and 1917, materials used in the Naval Radio Transmitting Facility were delivered by mules. The radio towers were visible for over 50 miles in clear weather, a familiar fixture in San Diego’s landscape for over seventy five years. Aircraft warning lights at their tips were used as a reference for pilots on their final approach to Lindbergh Field. To this day the towers were the tallest structures ever erected in San Diego County. The more modern transmitter, supporting three additional high-frequency antenna types, was used until the 1960’s, when it became outdated by advancing technology. It was then decommissioned in 1991 and dismantled in 1995.

“In behalf of the citizens of San Diego I have the honor of extending to you the season’s greetings and their good wishes and congratulate you upon the completion at San Diego of the world’s most powerful radio station. Space has been completely annihilated and the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards are as one.”

San Diego Mayor Edwin Capp’s original message sent to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in Arlington on the transmitter’s official testing day, January 26, 1917.

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UPDATE: Russian sub to be new reef off Ensenada, Mexico!

I learned something interesting this morning!

I was walking along the Embarcadero past the Maritime Museum of San Diego when I noticed the hull of their badly rusting old Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine, B-39, was partially wrapped with orange material. I asked at the ticket booth for the latest news concerning this historic Russian sub, and I was told it’s being prepared for one last journey. It is to be towed away from the museum next month.

During the Cold War this particular diesel electric submarine, which was commissioned in the 1970’s, might have lurked at times off the West Coast, tracking United States Navy ships. Its final destination will be the Pacific Ocean off Ensenada, Mexico. There it will be sunk to create a new underwater reef!

UPDATE!

Oh, the perils of a blogger whose website, through mysterious algorithms, is considered by some a news site. I make a lousy journalist!

The gentleman I relied on for the preceding information was only partially correct–and very wrong concerning the main matter. The submarine will indeed be towed to Ensenada (at an as yet unknown time) to be disassembled for its valuable metal components. But will it become a reef? I’m told, no.

I heard this a couple days later from a much more reliable source during another visit to the Maritime Museum.

I also took the following photographs. You can see strips of orange safety fence wrapped around a portion of the rusted outer hull.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of Veterans Park in Poway.

Beneath the flags of Veterans Park, located across Midland Road from Old Poway Park, those who have served in the United States military are honored and remembered.

I visited Veterans Park during my most recent walk in Poway. I found many tributes to those who sacrificed.

I saw plaques, engraved bricks in a Wall of Honor, and small monuments filled with memory.

There’s a bronze Battlefield Cross and a large Meneely Bell.

Six stations near the center of the Veterans Park circle feature artwork and audio recordings. The history of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine is told.

There’s a cannon, an anchor, and other artifacts from war, and words of pain, and courage, and gratitude for freedom. And many names.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Memorial Day at National City’s Wall of Honor.

Late this afternoon I attended a Memorial Day ceremony at National City’s Wall of Honor.

It was a special event for the South Bay community. Those who served in the United States Armed Services and have passed on were remembered.

The Wall of Honor extends on either side of the National City War Memorial, which stands overlooking a corner of Kimball Park. Plaques on the wall are dedicated to loved Veterans. Through the memorial’s arch children could be seen playing on the park’s wide green grass, and looking through that arch during the ceremony was like peering through the window of Freedom.

National City’s mayor and various dignitaries were in attendance and spoke. The Navy was represented as well. Retired vets who had served their country received handshakes from all.

I took these photographs of the beautiful and very meaningful ceremony. Memorial Day is a time to recognize sacrifices, and to seriously reflect.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Demolition of Navy Broadway Complex resumes.

The demolition of the immense, old Navy Broadway Complex on San Diego’s Embarcadero has resumed!

This morning I happened to notice a good chuck of the large remaining Navy building has vanished!

In 2017 demolition began on an adjacent section of the complex, to make room for the new 17-story U.S. Navy Region Southwest Headquarters, which was completed in September of 2020.

Four years ago I posted photographs of that phase of the demolition, and other construction activity along San Diego’s waterfront, here.

Once the last remnants of the Navy Broadway Complex are finally removed, construction can begin in earnest of the Manchester Pacific Gateway, which will feature a total of six new buildings.

According to the site plan, there will be a 1.9 acre plaza across Harbor Drive from the Broadway Pier and USS Midway Museum, a 34-floor Convention Center hotel with retail on Broadway by Pacific Highway, and office space in the five other, smaller buildings.

If you want to learn more about this project, which has evolved over its many years of planning, click here.

It appears the new bayfront hotel and its outdoor park will be called One Broadway Hotel & Plaza.

UPDATE!

One of my blog’s readers has informed me that I’m not quite up-to-date about this project. An article in the Union Tribune last September relates how “IQHQ real estate investment group…completed its acquisition of around two-thirds — or five city blocks — of the development site known as Manchester Pacific Gateway. The transaction paves the way for what IQHQ is calling the San Diego Research and Development District…”

So it seems the plans for this property have continued to evolve…

ANOTHER UPDATE!

I took more photographs a couple weeks later…

MORE PHOTOS!

And here are a four more pics that I took one morning in early June from Harbor Drive…

…and a couple days later…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Sailor street art near Naval Base San Diego.

I discovered this small mural during my most recent walk through Barrio Logan. You can find it on Main Street near 32nd Street, directly north of the entrance to Naval Base San Diego, home to numerous ships of the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

The street art is simple, yet in a quiet way it’s very personal and emotionally stirring. A sailor gazes out across a landscape of flowers, at a pickup truck and Navy ship coming into San Diego Bay near Point Loma.

It appears this painted scene is signed Shannon.

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America’s Heroes of 9-11 mural painted by Navy SEAL.

A large patriotic mural paying tribute to firefighting heroes is visible to those driving down Main Street in Barrio Logan. It can be observed on the side of the FIRE ETC firefighter supply store.

Titled “America’s Heroes of 9-11,” the mural was painted in 2011 by Pete Carolan, a retired Navy SEAL.

To learn more about Pete Carolan’s career and accomplishments, check out his website here. I see he has painted an outdoor mural at the UDT-SEAL Museum, and “his many works…appear in such places as The Pentagon, our Nation’s Capitol and The White House.”

Pete Carolan got his start early in life as a lifeguard in Huntington Beach, California, became a world champion outrigger canoe paddler, and would eventually become a Navy frogman. He was chosen to be swim team leader in the recovery of the Apollo-13 capsule when it finally splashed down in the South Pacific.

He was the one who painted “Freddie the Frog” on the Sea King helicopter that recovered the astronauts. You can see “Freddie the Frog” briefly in the Apollo 13 movie starring Tom Hanks!

Should you visit the USS Midway Museum, check out their SH-3 Sea King helicopter. It, too, has been painted with Pete Carolan’s “Freddie the Frog!”

(You might notice I took these photographs late in the afternoon. I had to cope with glare produced by reflecting sunlight, plus a few trees across Main Street were casting their long shadows upon the artwork.)

UPDATE!

Here’s a photo I took at a later time when the sun and shadows weren’t being problematic…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!