Why is the Naval Aviation Museum Closed to the Public?


    When Will Naval Aviation Museum Reopen?

    The Naval Aviation Museum, located at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, has been closed to the public for over three years, restricting access to Department of Defense cardholders and their escorts only. The closure was implemented on December 6, 2019, following a tragic terrorist attack at the military base, which resulted in the loss of three lives and injured eight others.

    Image Credit: National Aviation Museum

    However, there is good news on the horizon. The museum is set to reopen to the public on May 17, 2023, allowing all visitors with proper identification to explore its extensive collection of aircraft and aviation history.

    The Long Wait for Reopening

    Since the closure, there has been a continuous effort to reopen the Naval Aviation Museum to the public. Capt. Terrence Shashaty, the commanding officer aboard NAS Pensacola, made it a priority to find a solution that ensures the safety and security of both base personnel and visitors.

    The decision to allow public visitation required multiple levels of approval within the Navy to establish proper safety and security protocols. This involved coordination with federal, state, and local lawmakers and officials, as well as proving to the Navy that the base could remain secure while allowing civilian access.

    The Path to Reopening

    The reopening of NAS Pensacola to the public was made possible through a waiver signed by Under Secretary of the Navy, Erik Raven. This waiver allows U.S. civilians access to certain portions of NAS Pensacola, including the Naval Aviation Museum.

    The process to restore access was lengthy and complex, but the dedication of all involved parties ultimately led to its success. The community’s demand to reopen the base gained momentum with a website and petition campaign called “Open Our Museum,” which played a role in advocating for access restoration.

    NAS Pensacola: A Unique Place

    NAS Pensacola holds a special place in the community, as it is not only the location of the Naval Aviation Museum but also houses other attractions like the Pensacola Lighthouse. The reopening of the base and its associated facilities, including the museum, is crucial for the local economy. These attractions are funded with private donations and rely on public access for their continued operation.

    Plan Your Visit

    When the Naval Aviation Museum reopens on May 17, 2023, visitors will be required to enter the base through the west gate on Blue Angel Parkway. U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals ages 18 and older must provide a Real ID or passport for entry.

    The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 150 aircraft representing U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aviation, including historical gems like the North American B–25J Mitchell and the LTV A–7E Corsair II. Additionally, the base’s reopening means visitors will once again be able to witness the thrilling Blue Angels practice flight demonstrations on selected days.


    The reopening of the Naval Aviation Museum marks a significant milestone for the Pensacola community and aviation enthusiasts alike. After an extended period of restricted entry, visitors will once again have the opportunity to experience the magic and wonder of the National Naval Aviation Museum, making it a day to remember for all who visit.

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