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Aviation museum to celebrate 50 years


He was the second American to orbit the earth and in two weeks, Scott Carpenter will visit NAS Pensacola.

Carpenter will be the guest of honor at a gala, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Carpenter is one of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA's Project Mercury. Check out this inside look at a World War II VIP transport plane, that's been restored to look like new.

The National Naval Aviation Museum is filled with artifacts and displays, each with its own unique history.  One example is the Coronado, used as a flag transport, to shuttle high-ranking officers during World War II.  It took 13 years to restore.

Capt Bob Rasmussen, USN (Ret.)/Director, National Naval Aviation Museum

"All this equipment in this aircraft is original.  It's all been refurbished but it was originally part of the aircraft when it was operating during world war ii and it's very carefully preserved."

To see the equipment and conditions the crew had to fly in gives perspective on a different time, a different world, with a distant technology.

"It was high for the time certainly.  I'm sure that people that look at aircraft now, used to the technology of today would say, 'boy is this archaic!' and I guess it was in a lot of respects."

But that's why the museum is still going strong.  It tells the stories that otherwise wouldn't be told in an illustrative way to people who might not be inclined to listen.

"People are intrigued by airplanes, there's no question about that.  We're fortunate that our subject matter is something that the public is very interested in."

"But it's important, I think, for anybody in the country to know what the history of their nation was all about, and naval aviation is part of that."

Coming up tomorrow on Channel 3 news, see some of the first artifacts ever donated to the National Naval Aviation Museum, and how many there are in the collection today.