Halfway through January Jen and I were blessed to have my parents come down and stay with us for a week on Okaloosa Island. We were looking forward to this time for many reasons, one of which was to explore some of the local tourist attractions that we haven’t had a chance to see since our arrival here back in November. One such attraction that caught my eye early was the United States Air Force Armament Museum. We passed this facility our first time coming into town and with the number of impressive air craft sitting outside on the grounds, it quickly beckons you to stop in for a closer look. We held off though because at the time we knew my parents would be making the trip to Florida at some point and wanted to share the experience with them. My dad especially shares an interest in military history.
A large number of the exhibits are situated outside the main facility, so we waited for a warm sunny day during their stay and headed off for the Armament Museum! The museum was created in the mid seventies by repurposing an existing structure located on Eglin Air Force Base. It was and remains the only museum in the world dedicated to the display of items associated with Air Force Armament and the various ways to deploy such armament. One of the best things about this museum…admission is free!
My dad and I ready to suit up and take flight!! Maybe not quite. Standing next to this helicopter gives you an appreciation for the size and intricacy of it. I found myself wondering how something like this manages to get off the ground at all, and my engineering education put me through a number of physics classes, I still can’t wrap my head around it!
Standing nose to nose with an SR-71 Blackbird. The spy plane of yesteryear, this guy could reach speeds that are still envied today. Need to make it from Los Angeles to the coast of Virginia in just over 60 minutes?? This plane will do it for you, and you’ll be travelling over 2,100 mph to accomplish the task!
We came across a couple of air planes that my grandfather had helped build during his time as a tool and dye specialist. One of those planes, the A-10 Warthog, is pictured immediately above. I remember my grandfather, also a World War II veteran, speaking fondly of his time spent working on these amazing machines. The A-10 is such an effective warplane that it is still in use today despite the many far more sophisticated aircraft that have come along since its introduction into the US arsenal back in the mid seventies.
The above is a picture of the AC-130 Spectre gun ship, and if you look closely you can see why it is called a gun ship…wow! This guy packs some serious punch!
After we explored the exhibits around the main facility we headed inside to continue the experience.
The interior is one and a half floors jam packed with displays on every type of weapon system that you can imagine spanning back to World War I. As I made my way through the facility I found myself overwhelmed and humbled by not only the knowledge and enginuity that went into designing and manufacturing all of this, but even more so at the courage and bravery of the millions of men and women that have employed these items over the years to earn and keep the freedom that we enjoy in this amazing country.
Here’s my dad pulling off a pretty good “Maverick” if you ask me!
Some of the hand held weapons collection…
The Armament Museum was a real treat, as was having my parents down to enjoy the Florida experience with us. Our time was filled with sunny walks on the beach, visiting a couple of the fine Destin eating establishments, indulging in some locally caught grouper and shrimp back in Aunt Glady, exploring and dipping our feet in the various heated pools of our resort, and just enjoying our time together. Having experienced some of the life on the road that Jen and I now call normal, my folks are now official “wanderers”!