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National Aviation Museum celebrates 50th anniversary
NAS PENSACOLA -- The National Naval Aviation Museum aboard NAS Pensacola is celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Next weekend, the museum is unveiling an old plane as a new exhibit.
On average, 800,000 people come to the Naval Aviation Museum every year, but very few of them - get to see what's behind this door.
"Airplane is a very important aircraft to us."
Welcome to the restoration hanger, where for the last two years, crews have been working on a one-of-a-kind project.
A World War II F-16-F Hellcat.
"It's a combat veteran. There are very few of these left in the world and this is the only Hellcat."
In 1943, this Hellcat crashed during a training exercise and sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
The pilot survived.
But the Hell Cat wasn't so lucky.
"After about 65 years..."
"It was pretty badly damaged."
After sitting under water for nearly seven decades, the Hellcat was retrieved in 2009 and brought to Pensacola.
A special home for a very special aircraft.
"Of the nearly 13,000 Hellcats that were built during World War II."
"This is the only combat veteran of the Pacific Theatre that exists anywhere."
The restoration team has painstakingly brought the Hellcat back to life on-and-off for about 24 months.
After 70 years, the Hellcat will again be in full glory - just in time for the museum's 50th anniversary - though that wasn't the plan.
"It was not designed that way but it means a lot because we're gonna dedicate it at the 50th anniversary celebration."
Your first chance to see this combat veteran fully unveiled will be next Saturday, October 5th at noon.
To find out more about the museum's 50th anniversary celebration or to get tickets to the gala...
Just go to our website, weartv.com and click on the Community tab.