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Patuxent River Naval Air Museum

One of the places I went to today was the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. This is a really cool place. Lots of really detailed information about naval aviation over the years. They have lots of aircraft on display and very specific information for each one. NAS Pax River is a testing facility, so the displays had a lot of material about experimental programs and aircraft..

Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River) is located on a peninsula of land where the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River meet. The area was once prime farmland. Since its construction in the early 1940s, the focus of the operations at the base have been developing naval aviation research, development, testing and evaluation capabilities. The base has grown over time to Naval Air Systems Command, and over thirty other tenants, detachments and squadrons.

The museum, which is located just outside the Naval Air Station, used to be owned and operated by the US Navy but is now operated by a private foundation. The museum first opened in 1978 and in addition to the outstanding inside displays, also has an outdoor display consisting of 22 aircraft and aircraft configurations unique to the Naval Test Center.

There were a lot of cool aircraft on displayed including several unmanned aircraft (UAV) that the Navy has been testing. There was also extensive displays and descriptions of the history of Naval Aviation which was initially focused on seaplanes as there were no aircraft carriers back then. There were panels discussing aircraft that were tested but ultimately didn't make it to the fleet.

And there was some cool information about different anti-submarine warfare (ASW) tactics that have been employed over the years.

They also have a MiG-21 cockpit on the display. The MiG-21 is a Russin-built fighter jet that was lighter and more nimble that the US fighter jets during the Vietnam War, leading to an unacceptable loss ratio. During a very secretive mission in 1968, the CIA obtained access to the MiG-21 from the Israeli  government to allow the US military to test out its capabilities and weaknesses. Pilots from the USAF and from NAS Pax River flew 102 sorties in Area 51. The secret mission, nicknamed "Have A Doughnut", convinced the US Navy to create the famous Naval Fighter Weapons School ("TOPGUN") in 1969. The cockpit on display in the museum was recovered from a scrapyard in Germany and it took more than 2500 hours to restore it.

On the flight line, they have the original cupola from the lighthouse that sat on Cedar Point before the Naval Air Station was developed. And outside, they have a variety of aircraft and detailed information about each one.

If you are ever in this area, the museum is definitely worth your time to check out.


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