I was watching something on TV recently and there was some footage of the harbor in San Diego. The camera panned across the waterfront and right across the USS Midway. The Midway was a long lasting ship. She was originally built immediately after the end of WWII. A variety of upgrades and rebuilds meant that she served for nearly fifty years. She was a big ship but not as big as the Nimitz class ships in service today or Forrestal and Kitty Hawk classes. Consequently, she could not operate F-14s and was the last carrier to operate Phantoms which were replaced by F/A-18s when the Phantoms were retired.
Upon retirement, she became a museum in San Diego where you can visit her today. I took a look around a few years ago when ISAP was holding it symposium in San Diego. I got there a day early to have a look around and a bunch of us went down to see the Midway.
The collection of aircraft on board is pretty cool. There are some unusual types on display and they are arranged about the ship. The deck and hangar space provides plenty of options for the displays given the size of the air wing she used to accommodate. The deck has been used for other events including launching Kirby Chambliss during the Red Bull Air Races one year and hosting a college basketball game.
One frustrating memory of my visit relates to something not on the Midway. I had been talking with my friends about how I wanted to shoot LCACs – the hovercraft the Marines use for coming ashore. While I was up on the deck, what should I hear but an LCAC. Unfortunately, I was at the wrong end of a long flight deck so only got a passing look at the LCAC as it went by. I did get a quick shot but not one that will ever win any awards!
Should you find yourself in San Diego and you have some free time, I heartily recommend a visit to the Midway. San Diego has a lot to offer but the ship is impressive enough on its own and the collection of aircraft onboard is an added bonus.