Our historical adventure through the USS Midway Museum

Phone:(619) 544-9600
Photos Courtesy of:Sandy Zimmerman
Note:Logo of the USS Midway Museum courtesy of the website for the USS Midway Museum
Cost:Adult (18+) - $23 Youth (6-12) - $10 Student (13-17) - $17 Senior (62+) - $20
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Our traveling allows us to visit many cities and see so many wonderful things. While we were staying in, well near, San Diego, California we were lucky enough to be able to check out the USS Midway Museum. There was so much to see, do and learn that I am just sorry we could only spend one day there!

This historic ship is the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Commissioned on September 10, 1945 the USS Midway was named after the Battle of Midway (June 1942) and was the first of a set of three large carriers to feature an armored flight deck!

If you love history, like I do, you will appreciate all of the info they have available on the ship itself but also on the planes and other museum items inside and ON the ship!

The USS Midway became the first carrier to operate in the midwinter sub-arctic in 1946 and the next year became the only ship to launch a captured German V-2 rocket! In 1965 the Midway had its first combat deployment when it was sent against North Vietnam. There it shot down three MiGs but it lost 17 aircraft to the enemy during that time.

In 1975 the Midway was a floating base for helicopters which evacuated over 3,000 refugees during Operation Frequent Wind. In 1990 the Midway served as the flagship for naval air forces with no losses during Operation Desert Storm. Its final mission was the evacuation of civilians from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. This mission was called Operation Fiery Vigil and it evacuated more than 20,000 military members and their families.

We actually learned about the Midway on the show Mysteries at the Museum when they talked of the heroic landing of a plane carrying a family of refugees during Operation Frequent Wind. We were super excited to see the actual plane that the father flew and that the captain of the Midway sacrificed millions of dollars in helicopters to save. It was an amazing story to hear about and then see and learn more about. That captain was a hero and so was that father and the kids loved learning more and seeing something in person that they saw on T.V. Make sure you check it out!

April 11, 1992 the USS Midway was officially decommissioned in San Diego and in 2003 donated to the (non profit) San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum organization and opened June 2004 as the USS Midway Museum. This ship has had quite the “life” and now gets to share that rich history with over 1.4 million visitors each year.

A ship so full of history was amazing in itself to just see and set foot on but inside there is an even greater treasure trove of history and historical items. I highly recommend the audio tour which is included in the price of admission! There is a section for kids to select as well as one that has more information for adults or older kids.

We loved the audio tour and learned so much from each display that a full day would not satisfy us. Then again we tend to spend a LOT of time walking museums and just taking in the information and history and general wonder of the items. The USS Midway was only different in that you could actually touch a great number of things.

There is a Junior Pilot program for kids. Go to the information center and get a checklist and pencil and to ask for help if you get stuck. The volunteers there were amazingly patient and helpful and some had great stories to tell.

After your child completes the check list take it back to the information center and a person there will present your wings to a parent to pin while they say a few words. My kids LOVED it and it was their first wings earned which made it doubly exciting.

We were unable to explore the airplanes on the flight deck due to a sudden downpour but a volunteer helped the kids with the information they needed on their checklist. We use programs like this for our lessons since we homeschool.

You could also do a sort of scavenger hunt of items of you want or have kids write a paper on their time there or one item in particular. Our kids earn their wings and then have to give a Slides (google slides) presentation on our adventure as well.

They highlight 3 facts they learned and then talk about their favorite part as well. Sort of like research or a report on it but in a fun way hehe. Just a few ideas if you homeschool!

During your adventure you should also check out the flight simulators. There is an extra fee per person for this but it was so worth it. You actually spin upside down and go sideways so if you don’t like that sort of thing skip this, but if you are ok with it I highly recommend it.

I didn’t crash, but my daughter who was my co pilot did once. The simulator just resets so you don’t “feel” the crash but if you do feel the spinning and flipping up side down if you can’t steer correctly…or you’re like me and do it on purpose. SO much fun!!!

If you get hungry there is a  cafe on board as well near the gift shop. Right next to a Starbucks! I had lunch and a coffee! The prices aren’t bad and the food was good!

Not a huge selection but in a small cafe I wouldn’t expect a huge list but there was something for all of us which is great since we have one of the pickiest eaters with us…and the kids are sort of picky too! I’m the pickiest one….I try new things at least.

We spent the most time below decks learning about life on a ship that large and threatening the kids with the brig. One volunteer even walked us through parts of the ship and told us how the mail system worked, where medical was and even how men were paid on the ship.

I’m not sure they do that all of the time but I feel like the volunteers would go out of their way to help folks learn about the ship. I think they were volunteers but some may have worked there as well. In fact we never encountered an unkind or rude employee in any area on the ship.

The kids got to sit in cockpits, be in the brig (photo op) and even learned to tie various knots! Well we didn’t learn how but we tried to learn and others can learn. There is a lot of hands on learning here.

Words cannot describe the feeling you get when you are walking through this ship and seeing a part of history. I cannot not even begin to imagine having to live in compartments and beds that small and we travel in a travel trailer! Despite the rain we had an amazingly fun time aboard the USS Midway and plan on visiting again when we are in the San Diego area again. Here is a gallery of our adventure!

Sadly we only had the one day so we didn’t get to see ALL the ship had to offer but we did have a FULL day and it is absolutely worth the cost of admission and great for all ages. Don’t miss the Kissing Statue just outside! Well it’s not part of the museum but it is near by and is actually called the Unconditional Surrender Statue. Great photo op!

If you live in San Diego I hope you have already visited this historic treasure but if not you should go…maybe more than once. For those that travel, like us, or if you are planning a vacation, the USS Midway Museum should be on your list of must-sees.

Show us your USS Midway Adventure! @MyGeeklings #USSMidway @USSMidwayMuseum

“Outings are so much more fun when we can savor them through the children’s eyes.”
~ Lawana Blackwell

Author: sandyz