If you’re ever within striking distance of Pensacola you need to visit the Naval Aviation Museum. Parking and admission are free. It is on base at Pensacola Naval Air Station, so you need to enter through the specified gate and show valid government issued photo ID that complies with the RealID Act. If you show up on a Tuesday or Wednesday the Blue Angels do their practice show starting at 11:30. The website suggest showing up by 9:30 as parking fills up fast. Heed that warning. We showed up at about 11:30, thinking it wouldn’t be that crowded as the schedule showed they would be doing an orientation flight, but not a full practice. We drove around the parking lot for about 20 minutes before we found a spot.

We could see the Blue Angels flying around on our way in, and as we were getting out of the car I caught this pass. I didn’t take a ton of photos since a phone camera isn’t particularly effective at getting worthwhile pictures of plane flying in the distance. Mostly they were flying in pairs, but they did do a couple passes in the diamond. I’m hoping we will get to see them at some point this summer. They do show a few hours away from us, but we might have other obligations that weekend. Hopefully not and we can do a weekend trip to catch the show.

Blue Angels from the parking lot
Photo: You can Tell a Finn

There is a ton of stuff inside the museum. We were only there for an hour or two and didn’t really come close to seeing the exhibits. I mostly followed the Finnlet around as we wandered aimlessly from one plane to the next.

Naval Aviation Museum
Photo: You can Tell a Finn

The flight of Blue Angels hanging from the ceiling is pretty cool. I didn’t think to snap a shot when I was in front of them, so you’ll have to make do with a crappy snap from the back.

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Old Blue Angels inside the Naval Aviation Museum
Photo: You can Tell a Finn

Now for the mystery plane spot. I didn’t take a photo as the plane was a mile or two south of us and flying at 5,000-10,000 feet AGL heading SE / ESE. It was a BIG BOI, my first impression was that it was an A380. I spotted it around 10:55 AM Central Time on 3/29. It was a four engined airliner, had a low wing and was painted white. I couldn’t make out a bump, so it didn’t appear to be a 747. Using FlightAware and Flightradar24 on my phone I couldn’t come up with any airplane in that location at the time. Just now I fired up Flightradar24 on the computer and played back everything at that time with no success. There are simply no planes that show up that close to the beach. If anybody here has mad skills with one of the flight tracking apps/websites, it would be awesome to figure out what I was looking at. There is a flight track across the Gulf of Mexico, but it is much further south, and the planes flying that would have been at much higher altitude. I’m completely baffled by this one at the moment.

Red track is approximate flight path of large airliner estimated at 5,000-10,000 feet AGL, heading ESE. I was standing where the yellow arrow is.
Screenshot: flightradar24