Former NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter will be the guest of honor at the black-tie celebration at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of special events in October.
This occasion will complete a full “orbit” for Carpenter, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts. Over 50 years ago, as a young Navy lieutenant commander, he visited NAS Pensacola shortly after completing the second orbital flight of Project Mercury. He presented his Wings of Gold to Navy Rear Admiral Magruder Tuttle, who then declared “the Naval Aviation Museum is hereby established.” Carpenter’s Wings of Gold became the first official artifact of the Naval Aviation Museum, which opened its doors to the public in June 1963.
Here’s how the museum is celebrating its big birthday:
At noon on Oct. 3, the 50th anniversary golf tournament will be at A.C. Read Golf Course, NAS Pensacola. It’s $50 per person. Info: 850-453-2389, x3233.
At 9 a.m. on Oct. 4, the first 50 entrants to the museum receive a free souvenir 50th anniversary coin (limit one per family). There will be a special display of the latest in aerospace technology, Northrop-Grumman’s X-47B unmanned tactical aircraft, and an aviation art show display in the Quarterdeck area. At 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., there’s a 50th anniversary museum tour called “Walk through Naval Aviation History.” From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Museum Historian and author Hill Goodspeed and book designer Michael Duncan preview and sign copies of the Museum Aircraft Collection and Museum Artifact Collection books.
At 10 a.m. on Oct. 5, the first 50 entrants receive a free souvenir 50th anniversary coin (limit one per family). From 10:30 am to 4 p.m.. a car show featuring the Ford Mustang will open. (The car celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014.) At 11 a.m., a free IMAX film will feature the Blue Angels in action.
On Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m., the 50th Anniversary black-tie gala celebration with Carpenter will be held at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Tickets are $125 per person and are available for purchase online at www.NavalAviationMuseum.org/50, by phone at (850) 453-2389 ext. 3233 or in person at the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation office. Proceeds benefit the Naval Aviation Museum and Foundation.
The National Naval Aviation Museum features free admission. Info: 850-453-2389; www.NavalAviationMuseum.org