The Flying Leathernecks

With a name like “The Flying Leathernecks,” who wouldn’t want to visit?

The Marine Aviation Museum looks a little like a futuristic junkyard.

Located off the bland Miramar road, a bevy of old airplanes scatter at an outside park. You can wander next to famed aircraft of yesterday and read about science fiction-turned-reality, including:

  • The Skyburner that broke a speed record in 1961 by flying at 1606.3 miles per hour.
  • The Skyhawks, including A-4 Skyhawk (aka Heinemann’s Hotrod) that could roll at a rate of 720 degrees per second.
  • The Phantoms, including the Phantom II flight in 1961 from Los Angeles that broke a speed record by flying across the country in 2 hours, 48 minutes at an average speed of over 869 mph.
  • The Panther, including the Grumman F9F-2 Panther that flew more than 78,000 sorties with a propulsion Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet;
  • The Bronco, including the North American Rockwell OV-10D Bronco that had a fuselage compartment with a capacity of 3,200 pounds; and
  • Willy the Whale,” aka the Douglas F3D-2 Skyknight, restricted to night operations.

There’s also a great tribute to Landing Signal Officers. Here, you learn about the WAVE OFF and the other twelve signals to communicate with aircraft:

All this ancient technology led to one important development: space travel. Turns out, many astronauts started out as marines, including Frederick Sturckow, George Zamka and Gerald Carr:

[box]The Flying Leathernecks have their own Historical Association and you don’t need a military ID to get in because it’s off the Miramar Base grounds. Admission is free! You can even go on a 20 minute Flight Simulator for $10.

Address: T-4203 Anderson Avenue
San Diego, CA 92145-0316

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.[/box]